A “tailing tale” of Oliver & Sarah J. Feay

Colorado Pioneers

By Maggie Magoffin

Oliver Feay was born February 22, 1838 in Fayette, County, Pennsylvania. His family relocated to Iowa in 1850. In 1859, he set out for Colorado to seek his fortune in the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. After camping along Ralston Creek for a time, he headed for the gold fields of Central City and Black Hawk. For the next year he prospected and mined in California Gulch where he and his partner discovered a rich lode of silver. However, like many others thinking the ore was lead, they discarded their find accordingly.

At last, feeling he was not destined to become a rich miner, Oliver turned his energies to agriculture. He purchased 160 acres of land along Ralston Creek where he cultivated and improved the property considerably. On June 7, 1867, he married Sarah J. Strope, widow of George L. Strope, sold his property along Ralston Creek and purchased the Strope homestead. In 1872, he purchased 160 acres of the farm while another 160 acres remained in the ownership of Sarah.

Sarah J. Mantanye was born July 8, 1826, Exter Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. She had five children by George Strope, Henrietta (DeFrance), Andrew M Strope, Fannie (Morrison), and Ida (Belcher).  Florence A. (Jones) was the only child born to the union of Oliver and Sarah. The Feay’s adopted a grandchild, Viola S.

Sarah crossed the plains 14 times, and on many of those trips sat in a stage with two revolvers in her lap, ready to use them at a moment’s notice, while in all directions could be seen from the windows of the primitive vehicles the burning homes of pioneers. It so happened that she made a trip on the first train leaving Julesburg for Omaha on the first completed Union Pacific Railroad and, while waiting for the train, witnessed a shooting affray between two men who shot each other with determination and will.

Sarah was the first woman to cast her vote in her school district and for one term she officiated as treasurer of the local board of education.

Oliver served on the school board and also served as constable for two terms. He was a member of the Enterprise Grange No. 25. In 1864, he enlisted in the 3rd Colorado Cavalry where he served as a Corporal. He was honorably discharged January 1865.

Oliver Feay died May 2, 1899 in Golden, Colorado. Sarah died March 21, 1920.


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

  Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver and Vicinity – Colorado, Chapman Publishing Co., 1898

History of the State of Colorado, By Frank Hall

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,, and

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

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 or send snail mail to Maggie Magoffin, P.O. Box 746495, Arvada, Colorado 80003.

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