January 2, 2010

"Doc" Baggs - Leadville, Colorado , part IV

(Click image to enlarge)
Leadville around the time "Doc" Baggs arrived

Around 1880 confidence man Charles L. Baggs moved his operations to Leadville, Colorado where it is said he made $75,000. While there Baggs met a woman and decided to marry. The famed "Fighting Parson Tom Uzzell performed the marriage ceremony.

The prospect was not alluring but Parson Tom, to use his own language, “didn’t like to refuse,” and he went to the notorious dive when the rooms above the gambling house beamed with light and splendor, and the wedding guests in rich attire impatiently awaited the coming of the clergyman.

The bride, whose character was not of the best, was arrayed in conventional bridal attire of the most luxurious quality, and “Doc” was resplendent in full evening dress. None of the minor fashionable details had been forgotten. The men and women were the entire sporting population of Leadville. For a moment the splendor of the scene and the dignity of the bridal party almost staggered the parson, whose drawing room experience had been very limited. But he summoned sufficient voice to unite the pair and to ask God’s blessing on the marriage. All present bowed their heads, and Tom was encouraged to elaborate somewhat on his usual form of supplication. After Baggs had kissed the bride he slipped a $20 note into the parson’s hand. When Parson started to retire the bridegroom forgot his lines and swore violently.

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The "Reverend" Baggs
(One of Baggs' many disguises)

“D-n you, Uzzell.” He said. “What are you thinking of? You’re not going until we’ve had something to eat.”

So Parson Tom sat down, and although his heart was in his mouth he partook, perhaps, of a more sumptuous repast that he has ever seen before or has ever seen since.

“I kept the money in my hand all the time” he said afterward, and I was mortally afraid they’d ‘do’ me, but they didn’t. They kept up appearance until I left, and Baggs sent me home in the handsomest carriage in the town.”

Baggs later relocated in Denver where a bunco gang, probably Baggs’, is reported to have raked in nearly $25,000 in a few months time.

To be continued...

Rocky Mountain News, 08/29/1880, 12/27/1892.
St. Paul Globe, 01/02/1891.
Omaha Daily Bee, 03/03/1882.

Parson Thomas Uzzell, pp. 30, 60, 84, 108, 134-38, 175, 187, 198, 231, 233-35, 266-68, 271, 294, 329, 406.


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