A “tailing tale” of Captain Lewis Berry

A Colorado Pioneer

Lewis W. Berry was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 1, 1822. His father was a ship carpenter and worked for many years in the U.S. Navy, where young Berry learned his trade.

In 1842, Lewis went to New Orleans where he pursued painting until the Mexican War in 1846. He raised a company in New Orleans and was chosen its captain. His regiment participated in all of the important battles under General Winfield Scott. After the war was over, he returned with his company to New Orleans where they were honorably mustered out and Captain Berry returned to New York.

In 1853, Lewis was appointed Master Painter of the Navy, a position he held for the next six years.

In 1859, he crossed the plains in search of a fortune. After a few months of weary travel, he landed in Central City, Colorado. He was variously engaged there, until 1863 when he was lured by the glowing accounts of the discovery of gold in Montana Territory. After two years, he returned to Colorado and located in Georgetown where he engaged in mining until 1876. Then he visited his old home in Brooklyn, NY, before returning to Colorado in the spring of 1879 and located in Idaho Springs where he pursued his career as a painter. He owned considerable mining properties near Georgetown.


The Real Pioneers of Colorado, by Marla Davies McGrath. The Denver Museum, 1934

From Maggie

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I am always looking for interesting stories about Colorado pioneers and local folk instrumental in the founding and/or development of Gilpin County. If you have stories about family members or friends to share, please contact me at or send snail mail to Maggie Magoffin, P.O. Box 746495, Arvada, Colorado 80003.

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