CommunityHistory

A “tailing tale” of Mark L. Blunt and the Boston Company

Colorado Pioneers

By Maggie Magoffin

Mark L. Blunt was born in Boston, Massachusetts, May 23, 1832, and was educated in the public schools of that city. At the age of 12, obliged to earn a livelihood, he found employment first in a book store. Subsequently, he learned the trade of a printer, supplemented by that of a stereotyper* and electrotyper**.

Infected with gold fever, in the winter of 1858, Blunt, Captain George West, Horace Greeley, Albert D. Richardson, Henry Villard, William Summer, Col. Tom Knox, and James McDonald organized The Boston Company; their purpose being to head west in the spring of 1859 to find their fame and fortune in the gold fields of Colorado.

After electing Captain George West as their president, that spring The Boston Company left for Pikes Peak, embarking upon the plains at St. Joseph, Missouri with ox wagons. They arrived at Auraria in the early part of June.

Greeley, Richardson, and Villard arrived several days ahead of the others and during that time made an examination and prepared a report upon the Gregory mines. Mr. Byers of the Rocky Mountain News desired to publish their report in the form of an extra. But as the excitement raised by the discoveries of gold in the mountains had stampeded his printers, he had no one to put it in type. Hence, Mr. Byers, went to the camp of the Boston Company in the Cherry Creek bottom and engaged George West, Mr. Blunt, and William Summer to assist him in publishing the Greeley report. This was the first authoritative statement on the subject to which the people of the county accorded full credence. It was signed by Mr. Greeley and his companions, Richardson and Villard, and was printed on a small sheet of manila paper, there being no white print stock in hand at the time. It was Mr. Blunt’s recollection that they received $2 per 1000 ems (characters set) for setting the type, and it was the first money they earned in the Rocky Mountain region.

A few days later, the company proceeded to Golden City, on their way to the mountains, and assisted in establishing the town by building one of the first cabins on its site and in organizing the Golden Town Company. George West, James MacDonald and Mark Blunt then began publication of the “Mountaineer,” afterward merging into the “Western Mountaineer,” and edited by Albert D. Richardson and Col. Tom Knox, both famous journalists, correspondents, and authors in their time.

The “Transcript” was the legitimate successor of those primitive endeavors.

In August 1860, Richardson, Blunt, and two ladies made the ascent of Pikes Peak. At the time, they were of the opinion that these were the first of the feminine gender to accomplish that difficult feat. However, as a matter of fact, they had been preceded in July 1858 by Mrs. Julia Archibald Holmes of Kansas.

Mark Blunt was, as already stated, one of the founders of the town of Golden and in due course was elected recorder and subsequently, a justice of the peace. In the summer of 1880 he was appointed postmaster.

In March 1863, he went to the Missouri River with the 2nd Regiment, Colorado Volunteers, and was “engaged in the patriotic duty of handling sutler’s*** goods.”

In June 1863, he returned to Colorado with a herd of cattle and in April 1864 moved to the Arkansas River near Pueblo.

From 1866 to 1872 he served as Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue under George W. Brown and his successor Dr. Morrison.

On February 18, 1881, Blunt was appointed Register of the U. S. Land Office at Pueblo and served by reappointment until October 1885 when, being a Republican, he was removed by President Cleveland, presumably for “offensive partisanship”, as no other cause could be alleged. He then practiced as an attorney.

He was Deputy Clerk in the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for the District of Colorado and also was an examiner in Chancery for the Circuit Court.

On July 2, 1871, Mark Blunt married Linda J. Sour of Des Moines, Iowa.

*stereotype/sterotype: A stereotype was originally a “solid plate type of metal, cast from a paper mache or plaster mold taken from the surface of a form of type” used for printing instead of the original. The process was labor-intensive and costly. The stereotype radically changed the way books, especially novels, magazine articles and other popular forms of literature was reprinted.  It is thought that stereotype plates may have been used as early as the fifteenth century. However, wide application of the technique, with improvements, is attributed to Charles Stanhope in the early 1800s.

**electrotyping is a chemical method for forming metal parts that exactly reproduce a model. Invented in Russia in 1838, the method was immediately adopted for applications in printing. By 1901, stereotypers and electrotypers in several countries formed labor unions around these crafts, and the unions persisted until the 1970s.

***sutler: a civilian provisioner to an army post often with a shop on the post

Resources

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

  History of Clear Creek, and Boulder Valleys, Colorado by O.L. Baskin and Company, 1880

  Mirriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype_(printing)

  https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrotyping

From Maggie

The first two books of my Misadventures of the Cholua Brothers series are available at Mountain Menagerie on Main Street in Central City, Colorado; at www.amazon.com, www.lulu.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.

For past columns and other information on my speaking engagements, book releases, and events visit me at www.maggiempublications.com.

I’m 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 Maggie@maggiempublications.com or send snail mail to Maggie Magoffin, P.O. Box 746495, Arvada, Colorado 80003.

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