The Gold Camp Victorian Society of Cripple Creek, Colorado held their annual cemetery tour, with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck proudly in attendance. This great tour features pioneers of the Cripple Creek area, portrayed by members of the Gold Camp Victorian Society. We are ready to board the Trolly to Mt. Pisgah Cemetery.
We have arrived.
This cemetery is located on the slopes of Mr. Pisgah, a mountain with a native American burial grounds. Isn’t it great that native Americans and white settlers have final resting places on the same mountain? One of our stops was to visit with Dr. Susan Anderson, or Doc Susie.
A female doctor, she helped many in Cripple Creek and than finished her career in Frasier, Colorado. The dry mountain climate helped her personal battle with Tuberculosis contributing to her long life of more than 90 years. Next we visited one of Cripple Creek’s more infamous entrepreneurs, Madam Pearl DeVere. Pearl owned and operated the most expensive and successful brothel in the Cripple Creek area.
With miners wages about $3 per day, her ladies received $250 per night from clients, after they passed personal and financial background checks. For that amount of money, the gentlemen received a dinner with Russian caviar and French champaign. Of course, they also received a female companion for the duration. Breakfast was also available. Sounds like a very exclusive gentlemen’s club, doesn’t it? Nearby we saw the tombstone of the original Fred E. Krueger, born December 7, 1881 and passed January 21, 1897, long before movies made his name famous.
On to the Civil War Memorial. Our host, Lt. David McClintock of the 21 Ohio Infantry, is the only Confederate soldier buried here.
He moved to Cripple Creek and became the local butcher, passing June 15, 1906. Next we heard from Mabel Barbee Lee, a very accomplished women. Born in 1824 she soon moved to Cripple Creek. She became a teacher at nearby Victor High School, an administrator at Colorado College and later at University of California in Berkley. Author of 4 books, her first Cripple Creek Days was written when she was 75 years old. Mom just finished reading this book and thought it was both informative and entertaining.
Mabel passed in 1978. Wasn’t she an amazing lady? Next a lady of Cripple Creek told of a sadder side of life. During the mining time, cyanide was used in the process. One day a miner came in, so thirsty, he drank from the first cup he saw. It had some cyanide in the water. While the miner, Mr. T. Miyake died in horrible pain, no one helped him, as he was just an immigrant.
That incident was published in the newspaper and was the beginning of better treatment for all. In the late 1800s Cripple Creek was a very rich district. The cemetery would bury anyone, for free, in the Potter’s Field area. This lady walked across the field, singing, carrying her baby.
She said she had no name and that her baby died right after the birth, which also took the life of the mother. This is sad, but also good as thousands, at least had a place to be put to rest. This nun is a Sister of Mercy. The Sisters started and ran St. Nicholas Hospital. During the fires of 1896 many were helping save the hospital. However, there were some in town that did not like the Catholic Church and one man got in the hospital, where he put dynamite in the stove chimney.
But, the dynamite exploded immediately, taking a part of the man’s leg and throwing his boot on the tea kettle, simmering on the stove. The Sisters of Mercy nursed him back to health and he then became one of the biggest supporters of St. Nicholas Hospital. Another citizen of Cripple Creek, Winfield Scott Stratton, began leasing a mine claim and through hard work and some luck, became one of the richest miners in the area. When mining was slow, he gave tours of the mine, generating extra income. The members of the Gold Camp Victorian Society that portrayed him, were his grandchildren.
One of the true characters of Cripple Creek was Johnny Nolon. This Irishman ran a saloon in town. One day the notorious, Carrie Nation, a female temperance movement leader, came into town. After a discussion about drinking and nude pictures, Johnny Nolon picked her up, carried her out of his establishment and set her in the middle of the street.
Carrie Nation was known for attacking alcoholic establishments with a hatchet. The story says that he also escorted her to the next train leaving Cripple Creek and she did not return. Johnny Nolon’s establishment is still in business on Cripple Creek’s main street.
He, however, moved to nearby Colorado Springs. This was a great tour. Our tour guides were very nice and very knowledgeable.
It was informative and a lot of fun. We, Zeb and Soapy, never knew dead humans could be so much fun! After leaving the cemetery, we saw another famous resident, a left over from the mining days. When miners left town, they often just released the donkeys. Now there are wild donkeys roaming the streets of Cripple Creek.
Isn’t he so cute? We hope you visit and take the cemetery tour next September.