December 19, 2009

First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado.



I recently had the great pleasure of speaking with author Joyce B. Lohse about her book First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado of which I have the fortune of owning. The book is published by Filter Press 2002, and is a CIPA Gold EVVY Award winner. Her website, Western Pioneer History, describes the book as a dual biography ...

"... of Colorado's last territorial governor and first state governor, John L. Routt and his wife, Eliza. In addition to being elected governor twice (1875 to 1879) and serving as mayor of Denver (1885), he was elected as governor for a third term in 1891. Routt's business acumen earned him the titles Bonanza King and Cattle King.

Eliza's contribution to the new state included years of service as the first woman appointed to the state Board of Agriculture. She had the distinction of being the first woman registered to vote in Colorado. Their story is the exciting story of the early days of Colorado statehood.

Richly illustrated with historic photographs, many in print for the first time. Foreword by former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm."

My interest in the book centers around the lot auctions in Creede, Colorado February 1892 in which both men were present and trouble was brewing.

At the onset of the new silver camp of Creede, V. B. Wason had leased land from the state that had been designated as school land. He argued that the state did not have the right of owning the land and subleased the property to others. The state of Colorado decided to auction off the lots which were already in the hands of others whom the state considered “squatters,” illegally holding the land. The state contested Wason’s subleases by canceling his own. Soapy, on the side of the “squatters,” threatened trouble as did the "squatters" if those who currently occupied the lots were forced off by outside interests due to the auction. Governor Routt traveled by train to Creede to personally attend the auction but fearing for his safety he stayed aboard a private car on the train. Through intimidation and scare tactics most of the "squatters" were able to hold onto their land and Soapy and his friends were able to invest in lots as well.


(Click on image to enlarge)
Early Creede, 1892
The large white tent on the left may be the site of the lot auction.
The business district can be seen on the opposite side of the train cars.



After Joyce Lohse earned a B.S. degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University, she moved to Colorado, and worked as a special features reporter for the Arkansas Valley Journal. For fifteen years, she co-owned and operated The Letter Setters, a graphics service in Colorado Springs. Her freelance articles appeared in Colorado Springs Magazine, Yellowstone Gateway Post, Fiberarts, and others. She also worked as a secretary and library technician for Colorado Springs Public Schools, Littleton, and Cherry Creek schools. She currently writes biographies for "Now You Know Bios" for Filter Press, and history articles for magazines such as Women Out West.

This book and her other titles can be found and purchased on her website. Joyce also has a nice blog called Unsinkable Western History.


Sources: Read more about the lot auction in Creede.
Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, pp. 202-205.
First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado: pp. 114-116.









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