Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
This collection of 28 vignettes of famous lovebirds from Colorado's past includes such incendiary historical characters as Baby Doe and Horace Tabor, Molly Dorsey and Byron Sanford, and Cort Thompson and Mattie Silks. The couples were chosen because of their impact on the state's evolution and their propensity for drama. These real-life chatacters include pioneers, adventurers, gamblers, silver barons, and madams.
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||16 MB|
|Note:||This product may take a few minutes to download.|
Read an Excerpt
Colorado's Legendary Lovers
Historic Scandals, Heartthrobs, and Haunting Romances
By Rosemary Fetter
Fulcrum PublishingCopyright © 2004 Rosemary Fetter
All rights reserved.
Natives and Pioneers
* * *
Honeymoon on the Santa Fe Trail
Susan and Samuel Magoffin
In June 1846, a nineteen-year-old bride with a taste for adventure became the first American woman to travel the Old Santa Fe Trail into Mexico. Like many well-educated young ladies of her time, Susan Shelby Magoffin kept a diary. With a flair for writing and an eye for detail, she faithfully recorded her remarkable exploits (along with forty-nine pages of romantic poetry) for the folks back home in Kentucky.
That year, Santa Fe traders carted more than a million dollars worth of goods across mountains and deserts into northern Mexico, a journey of approximately eight or nine hundred miles, depending on the route. Susan's travels took place during one of the country's most daring eras, when the expansionist policies of President James Knox Polk paved the way for the Mexican War and the subsequent annexation of Texas, California, and New Mexico, all provinces of Mexico in 1846. Without the blatant prejudice of many observers, Susan provided intriguing insights into the culture of New Mexican inhabitants and the American conquest of Mexico, which nearly doubled the size of the United States.
Susan Shelby was barely eighteen when she married Samuel Magoffin, a veteran Santa Fe trader twenty-seven years her senior. Her family initially opposed the match because of Samuel's age and dangerous occupation, but Susan fell deeply in love with the lanky frontiersman, whom she refers to in her journal as mi alma (my soul). Both Susan and Samuel came from tough pioneer stock. Susan's distinguished and wealthy Kentucky kinfolk included Revolutionary War heroes and legendary leaders such as her grandfather, Indian fighter Isaac Shelby. Samuel's folks were Irish immigrants who settled in Kentucky during the 1790s. His family had been involved in the Santa Fe trade since the trail opened up in the early 1820s.
After an eight-month honeymoon in New York, Susan opted to accompany Samuel on a trading venture into Mexico. Magoffin adored his young bride and provided her with every comfort, including a tent house, private carriage, a maid, driver, and two servants. The couple began their journey at Independence, Missouri, traveling across the plains in a honeymoon caravan. She thought herself living "the life of a wandering princess" and wrote, "This is a life I would not exchange for a good deal! There is such independence, so much free, uncontaminated air, which impregnates the mind, the feelings, every thought with purity. I breathe free without that oppression and uneasiness felt in the gossiping circles of a settled home."
Their fifteen-month journey took them through the future states of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico and into northern Mexico. They survived wagon breakdowns, near-fatal accidents, dust storms, mosquito infestations, threats of Indian attack, and one of the most exciting periods in American history. Although Susan traveled in relative comfort, the rigorous journey took a heavy toll on her health. Pregnant when she began the journey (although she probably didn't know it), Susan tried to remain cheerful and optimistic, although at one point she admitted, "This business of marriage is not what it is cracked up to be."
After forty-six days of travel, the wagons finally reached Bent's Fort, near Pueblo, Colorado. With rounded, high adobe walls and a single entrance, the fort reminded Susan of an ancient castle. She gives a highly detailed description of the structure, down to its billiard room and makeshift racetrack. "There is no place on earth where man lives and some form of gambling is not carried on," she complained.
She and Samuel soon met up with Gen. Stephen Watts Kearney, who descended upon the fort with a makeshift regular and volunteer army, grandiosely called "The Army of the West." Charged by the government with carrying out a bloodless occupation of New Mexico, Chihuahua, and California, Kearney immediately issued a proclamation annexing much of New Mexico to the United States. Samuel's older brother, James, also joined the couple at the fort.
Gregarious and well liked by the Mexican people, trader James Wiley Magoffin had married into one of Mexico's wealthiest families, and his wife's cousin, Manuel Armijo, served as governor of New Mexico. Magoffin had been selected by President Polk for a secret mission, to use diplomacy and family connections to pave the way for a peaceful conquest of New Mexico. Armed with optimism and a large supply of brandy and claret, the elder Magoffin rode ahead of the army as a goodwill ambassador.
Susan suffered a miscarriage on the day after her nineteenth birthday. Following the loss of her baby she found comfort in religion, as she would many times throughout the journey. During the brief time allowed for her recovery, she noted the behavior of an Indian woman in the room below who had given birth about the same time. "In half an hour she went to the River and bathed herself and it [the child], and this she has continued," Susan wrote. "Some gentleman here told him [Samuel] that he has often seen them [Indian women] immediately after the birth of a child go to the water and break the ice to bathe themselves." She later reflected, "It is truly astonishing to see what customs will do. No doubt many ladies in civilized life are ruined by too careful treatments during childbirth."
Susan had a few days to recover before they were forced to leave the fort. Abandoned by the U.S. Army, which had moved ahead, and threatened by both the Mexican Army and the Indians, she cynically reported, "... if danger were near, I should be obliged to buckle on my pistols and turn warrior myself. The doctor thinks I will have to lie down in the carriage, but lest they should need my services I shall be obliged to decline my treatment. There is little romance attached to my life."
As they left the fort and approached the mountains, her outlook and her health improved. Susan often rode or walked ahead of the caravan, which was rambling along at about half a mile an hour through the rough country around Raton Pass. She happily wandered the hills while her pet greyhound, Ring, kept watch for "Indians, bear, panther, wolves, etc." During her jaunts, Susan collected pebbles, shells, wildflowers, or the "quill of a strange bird," clearly describing in her diary the magnificent changing scenery as pinyon trees gave way to pines. Since the primitive road made carriage travel almost impossible, she crossed the pass mostly on foot.
In small New Mexican villages she became the object of fascination for the people with whom Samuel traded. Initially horrified by the children "running about perfectly naked," she prudishly reflected that the women exposed far too much of their arms and necks. Some even used red paint and whitened their faces with flour like "one from the tomb." With a sense of humor she later reported, "I did think the Mexicans were as void of judgment and refinement as the dumb animals until I heard one of them say [about her] 'bonita Muchachita,' [pretty little girl]! I have reason and certainly a good one for changing my opinion. They are certainly a very quick and intelligent people." As her Spanish improved, she began to exchange friendly banter and gossip with the women who came to trade.
When the Magoffins reached Santa Fe, Samuel's brother James greeted them with a supper of champagne and oysters. The charismatic trader had convinced Armijo to surrender the city peacefully, and the New Mexican governor fled to the south as Kearney's army approached. With the Stars and Stripes flying peacefully in the capital city, James immediately moved on to El Paso and his next assignment. In Santa Fe, Susan finally had her own house, dirt floor notwithstanding. She spent her days bargaining at the marketplace and her evenings charming Kearney's young, homesick officers. She even attended a Spanish ball, where she saw the famous Gertrude La Tules, the most famous lady gambler of her time. By October Samuel and Susan were on the road again, worried by gossip from Chihuahua that told of a three-thousand-man Mexican Army marching north to retake New Mexico. To make matters worse, a Mexican and Indian rebellion against the American occupation of Taos resulted in the gruesome death of appointed governor Charles Bent. Rumors also circulated that brother James had been killed by Apaches, although the Magoffins later learned that the Mexicans had taken him prisoner and were treating him well.
Fortunately, Samuel and Susan made it to El Paso without incident. After a pleasant and reassuring stay, they proceeded with the business of trading as the caravan continued to Chihuahua City, Saltillo, Monterrey, and Mier. Susan's moods fluctuated, depending on the stage of her second pregnancy and the reported successes of the American Army. Her journal entries became more sporadic and finally ceased when she and Samuel boarded a steamboat down the Rio Grande del Norte. In Matamoras she suffered a siege of yellow fever that permanently ruined her health. She also gave birth to a son, who only lived a few days. Although her final reflections on the journey would have been enlightening, apparently she lost interest in her diary or became too ill to continue writing.
Upon returning to the United States, the Magoffins settled first in Lexington, Kentucky, then in Missouri, where Susan gave birth to her first daughter. Susan died prematurely at age twenty-eight after the birth of her second daughter. Grief-stricken and despondent, Samuel eventually married her cousin, also named Susan Shelby, who supposedly bore a resemblance to his first wife.
Mexican captors released Samuel's brother James after he provided them with 2,900 bottles of champagne. He later settled at El Paso del Norte, founding what later became the American city of El Paso, Texas.
* * *
LOVE LOCKS: THE ART OF HAIR JEWELRY
The mid- to late nineteenth century saw the development of a particularly curious hobby for Victorian ladies. Guided by complicated pattern books, they would spend hours weaving human hair into chains for artwork and jewelry. Although the practice seems ghoulish today, the desire for a physical memento from a friend, lover, or family member can be better understood in light of the high infant mortality rate and short life expectancy of the time (approximately 38.7 years for men and 40.9 years for women). When Queen Victoria's beloved Prince Albert died in 1861, Her Royal Highness wore black for the next forty years, inspiring mourning customs and fashions soon copied in the United States. During the same period, the horrendous casualties suffered during the American Civil War (1861–65) created widows by the tens of thousands. For the bereaved, a piece of jewelry made from the hair of a deceased loved one served multiple purposes: as an accessory, a keepsake, and a grim reminder of life's uncertainties.
Hair jewelry did not always commemorate the dead, and locks of hair were often exchanged between lovers for sentimental purposes. Victorian ladies could create their own hair jewelry or commission artists or "hairworkers," who could personalize the piece with engravings or monograms. Since professionals were notorious for selling custom pieces made from purchased hair rather than the tresses of the beloved, most women chose the "do-it-yourself" method. Ladies first practiced with horsehair, then gathered strands from family members or collected hair from their brushes. The fuzzy treasures were stored in a porcelain or ivory hair keeper on the vanity. After boiling and sorting the locks, women could create pictures and designs using a braiding table and bobbins wound with hair. To complete the work, the braids would be formed into a chain attached to a leaded weight, then dropped through a hole in a table. When completed, the chain could be taken to a jeweler to be finished with gold or brass, or woven into creative artwork. One woman even made an entire hair tea service, which probably sent her guests running for the door.
* * *
Seekers of the Promised Land
Mollie Dorsey and Byron Sanford
A vivacious brunette with a delightful wit and guileless manner, eighteen-year-old Mollie Dorsey left more than one besotted suitor in the dust when she headed west in 1857. Mollie began keeping a diary as her family emigrated from Indiana to the Nebraska Territory during the country's greatest westward expansion. She would chronicle her activities for the next several years, documenting her romantic escapades along with the adventure and challenges of frontier life. Written with humor and insight, her diary provides a fascinating personal account of the early Nebraska Territory and the birth of Colorado.
In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act opened up a vast area for settlement: all the remaining lands of the Louisiana Purchase in the Nebraska and Kansas Territories, which included Colorado. The act gave every new settler the opportunity to purchase 160 acres from public domain at $1.25 per acre. For landless men like Mollie's father, who had suffered severe business losses during the Panic of 1857, it was the bargain of the century. The Dorseys booked passage on a Missouri riverboat to Nebraska City, where the family settled temporarily. Mollie's father and uncles found a lovely spot in a wooded area next to a stream, not far from the Little Nemaha River. "Father is building a log cabin in the woods. Yes! In the woods! Miles and Miles from anybody!" Mollie whined in true teenage angst. Despite solitude, rattlesnakes, and blizzards, she eventually came to love the land her family called Hazel Dell.
In Nebraska City Mollie attracted more admirers, including a family acquaintance named Cornell. "I have heard he has recently broken an engagement with Miss Pamela Bouleware, who is slowly dying with consumption," Mollie wrote disdainfully. "I am not very well impressed with him." After befriending Pamela, she liked him even less. Knowing that Cornell suffered from painful corns, Mollie discouraged his attentions by dropping her prayer book on his foot during church services. She rebuffed another young man more gently during a fishing trip, when she "accidentally" hooked his hat and tossed it into the water while he was trying to propose.
"I don't know if I will ever love a man well enough to marry him," she wrote despondently. "I so soon tire of gentlemen if they get too sentimental." Mollie would continue to receive proposals before settling down with handsome Byron N. Sanford from Albion, New York. She would spend the next few decades complaining affectionately about his reserved manner.
Thirty-one-year-old Sanford was a direct descendent of Thomas Sanford, who settled in America as a member of England's Winthrop Colony in 1632. A blacksmith and wagon maker, Byron moved to Nebraska City after a fire destroyed his business in Indiana. Mollie called him "the yaller mule driver," because he drove a pair of flesh colored mules, but privately she thought him "the cutest fellow I have ever met."
Byron's dry wit, intelligence, and good looks captivated the previously inaccessible Miss Dorsey. The following passage from her journal, although written in a more innocent age, still has a timeless quality: "We walked along the path admiring the starry heavens and, as I turned to look, he kissed me on the cheek!" Mollie recorded. "It was dreadfully impertinent and I tried to feel offended. He said he knew it was wrong and would take it back, but I kept it to think of, and it burns on my cheek ever since."
Two weeks later she wrote, "I have had a letter, sweet letter. It was not torn to shreds with a wish that he would 'mind his own business,' as some have been fated, but lies securely next to my heart. Byron loves me tenderly, truly, and has asked for my heart in return." After they became engaged, Mollie took a job as a teacher and seamstress in Nebraska City, giving the couple time to become better acquainted. She received yet another proposal, this time from a wealthy man who questioned the long engagement and promised a more affluent lifestyle. With righteous indignation she sent him packing and married Byron in the family kitchen on Valentine's Day 1860.
Two months later, Mollie and Byron caught the second wave of the Pikes Peak gold rush as thousands of emigrants passed through Nebraska City on their way to Colorado. Inspired by a conversation with George West, a Boston newspaperman who later became editor of the Golden Transcript newspaper, Mollie convinced Byron that Denver was definitely "the" place to go. With wagons well stocked with provisions and a few head of cattle, they started out across the Great American Desert with another couple, named Clark. Mollie's younger sister, Dora, and brother-in-law, Sam Harris, went ahead on an earlier wagon train.
Excerpted from Colorado's Legendary Lovers by Rosemary Fetter. Copyright © 2004 Rosemary Fetter. Excerpted by permission of Fulcrum Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I NATIVES AND PIONEERS,
CHAPTER II ADVENTURERS, GAMBLERS, AND SHADY LADIES,
CHAPTER III SCANDALS AND TRIANGLES,
CHAPTER IV LOVERS FOR LIFE,
CHAPTER V RUGGED INDIVIDUALISTS,
CHAPTER VI HAUNTING ROMANCES,