By Maggie Magoffin
J.R. Beverly was what one might refer to as a rolling stone, moving from place to place and opportunity to opportunity. In 1837, the Beverly’s lived in Thornville, Ohio, where on June 28th of that year his wife gave birth to a son they named William H. Beverly. In 1843, the Beverly’s welcomed J. M. Beverly into this world in Culpepper County, Virginia. Later that same year, the Beverly’s relocated to Edgar County, Illinois. By 1844, the Beverly family lived in Clark County, Ohio.
In their early years, the boys attended district schools. At the age of 16, William enrolled at Marshall College in Marshall, Illinois where he pursued the study of medicine. In 1857, J. M. enrolled at the Marshall Seminary, but left after the first year.
In 1859, lured by reports of the discovery of gold in the Pikes Peak region of the Kansas Territory, J. R. loaded up a wagon, and with his son, J.M. crossed the plains on a three-month journey. Reaching Clear Creek at the point where the City of Golden now stands, they sold their team and wagon, bought provisions they could carry, and trekked two days up the mountains to reach the Gregory Diggings.
Little is written about J. R after he reached the Gregory diggings. However, J. M. built the first cabin in the district in Nevadaville where he engaged in gulch mining in Nevada Gulch. Being there was no law existing or recognized in the district, the miners established their own government, and late in the summer of 1859 J.M. was elected recorder, sheriff, and justice of the peace. At the time, those three offices were held by one person.
Late that fall, with the first appearance of snow, many miners left the district for the valley or for their homes back East. It was the general impression that miners could not live in the mountains during the winter owing to the cold and snow. However, J. M. and 25 or 30 others decided to take the risk. For the most part, the winter was mild and pleasant, and it was that winter that J. M. Beverly unearthed Beverly’s Discovery on the Burroughs Lode.
In the spring of 1860, Dr. William Beverly joined his brother in Nevadaville where he practiced medicine as well as engaging in mining activities. The following fall, with gold in his pockets, Doc Beverly returned to Illinois and married Katie A. Fristoe on October 28, 1861. They remained in Illinois, where William practiced medicine until 1863 when the couple returned to Nevadaville.
Meanwhile, in 1862, J. M. Beverly continued building his wealth from the diggings at Beverly’s Discovery and built a gold-bearing quartz mill in Nevada Gulch named Beverly Mill.
In 1864, J. M. sold Beverly’s Discovery and Beverly Mill and built another quartz mill. Little is written about either of the brothers’ activities for the next few years. It is recorded that in 1868 J. M. was living in Chicago where he married and engaged in the broker business. J. M. lost all of his accumulated wealth in the “Great Chicago Fire” of 1871 and afterward took up the study of law. He was admitted to the bar in 1877, and in 1879 visited Colorado, rekindling his interest in mining. He purchased and located a number of mines at Leadville and in the Nevada district, which he worked with great success.
The Real Pioneers of Colorado, by Marla Davies McGrath. The Denver Museum, 1934
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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.