At the historic Catholic Cemetery
By Randy Beaudette
History buffs got an opportunity to step into the past and hear tales of hardship, celebration and life in early Gilpin County at the 29th annual Cemetery Crawl. The much anticipated event was hosted by the Gilpin County Historical Society and for the first time, took place at the historic Catholic Cemetery above Central City. Ten eternal Gilpin residents shared stories of the past with about 200 guests which were escorted by twenty “Spirit Guides.” Proceeds from the event benefit the Gilpin County Historical Society to preserve, promote, and interpret Gilpin County’s rich and colorful history.
Elias B. Snyder: Born 1850 in Williamsville, New York. After his apprenticeship learning the blacksmith trade, Snyder loaded up a wagon he made himself with his blacksmith tools and headed west sometime after the Civil War. He worked in Black Hawk for three years as a blacksmith in a wagon shop, then moved to Central City and opened up his own blacksmith shop that also included a livery stable and a feed store, though there were five other livery stables in operation at the time. In 1914 Snyder and Oscar Williams of Williams Stables had a running bet that each had the stronger horse. They lined up at Central City Park to have a pulling contest. It is said that Snyder won the contest because he fitted his horse with horseshoes that had cleats on the bottom whereas Williams’s horse had shoes with a smooth surface. Snyder won $50 in the contest. Elias died two years later in 1917 from stomach complications and is buried somewhere in the Catholic Cemetery according to records. His headstone does not exist, likely due to vandalism or weather erosion.
Glades Daugherig: Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1898, she is known as the first female pharmacist in Central City. She married Frank Daugherig in 1925 and moved west, settling in Gilpin County. In 1933 Frank and Glades purchased Best Pharmacy in Central City. Frank served in the Pacific Theater in World War II leaving Glades to run the pharmacy by herself. After the war, Frank returned to Central City to assist Glades in the struggling pharmacy. To increase business they decided to put in a soda fountain in the back of the pharmacy, serving Coca-Cola, other sodas and later they added ice cream. At that time a Coke was 5¢ and a sundae was 15¢. Glades started a tradition of giving a free malted milkshake to the local football team win or lose. Soon they expanded the menu to light lunches and sandwiches. The Daugherigs grew medicinal herbs in their garden in order to compound the some of the potions they sold in their pharmacy. In the winter when they couldn’t grow, she would order herbs from Denver and they would truck it up to the pharmacy.
Glades recalls one night before closing a man came in to the store, held a gun to her head and demanded morphine. Glades placed a jar of white powder in a sack, gave it to the man and he scurried out of the store. She called the police and reported the crime, but revealed to the law that she had really given the man Pyridium, which makes urine turn neon orange. An all-points bulletin went out to all the hospitals and clinics in the area to be on the lookout for this person. Two days later the man showed up in an Idaho Springs hospital announcing he was dying. The doctors reassured the man that he was not dying, but that he would soon be arrested for armed robbery of the Best Pharmacy. Glades’ final words of wisdom were, “You don’t mess with a Pharmacist.”
John Slattery: Born in 1839 in Ireland, Slattery and his family escaped the Great Irish Potato Famine by coming to America. His family all perished on the journey and John arrived in New York as an orphan. He met a young lady by the name Elisa Drum from Westmeath, Ireland who was also orphaned during the voyage across the Atlantic. These two orphans were adopted together by the same family in New York. Soon the family moved to Iowa then on to Nebraska to be farmers. Slattery heard about the riches discovered in Colorado Territory and came to Gilpin County in 1860 in search of gold. With about 200 other men, they established the mining camp of Wide-Awake. Soon they discovered a rich vein of gold in the Wide-Awake area. John was lucky enough to discover quite a few mines in the area, one in particular was the Holly Gardener Mine on Quartz Hill. Slattery claimed to mine over $10,000 in gold in just seven weeks. In 1865 John and Elisa were wed in Nebraska and returned that same year to Nevadaville where they raised eight of their ten children, as two of the children died at a young age. After losing their house in the Nevadaville fire of 1890, they moved to Central City where Elisa bore their ninth child. The Slattery’s built a fine home in Central where they entertained numerous family and friends. John passed in 1922 and was known throughout the county as “A good man.”
Flynn Family: John Flynn migrated from Ireland to work in the mines of Gilpin County. John and his wife Ellen had nine children. Two of the boys were killed working in the mines. After John’s death, Ellen and four girls moved to Denver to live a less dangerous life and pursue an education. Their youngest daughter went into teaching and returned to Gilpin County to teach in the mining town of Perigo. Teaching in the early 1900 meant that the teacher had to be home by 8 pm, could only read the Bible or school-related books, and no ice cream parlors, no dances, and no association with men was allowed in any shape or form. Florence only lasted as a teacher of Perigo three years because she clearly violated one of the rules – she got married and started a family. To add a little of excitement to this story, let’s look to the town of Perigo. According to historians, in 1915 Perigo had 300 residents, four mines, a stamp mill with 60 stamps, a dance hall, and a social club. By 1920 Perigo was dying out and 1950 it was a true ghost town with the 23 buildings being in poor condition with collapsed roofs and walls that were tumbling down. The town was purchased in 1950 for a cheap price by a Denver resident who was proud of his town until Perigo caught the attention of the Gilpin County Tax Assessor. The taxes on the town, was more than this man could afford so he loaded the buildings with dynamite and blew Perigo off the map. Perigo was located in the Pickle Gulch area near the town of Wide-Awake.
Francis Gundy: Born in Germany and migrated to Gilpin County, Francis married Albert Gundy in 1911 the second son of Ignas and Cecelia Gundy. The Gundy’s initially came to Gilpin County to mine gold, but due to the dangers involved, they soon turned to ranching and the dairy industry at their ranch in Chase Gulch. After the death of their first son, Albert was the heir apparent to the Gundy fortune, but he didn’t want any part of the demanding dairy business. He wanted fun, adventure and excitement so he became Sheriff of Gilpin County. In five years as Sheriff he arrested six people. The most famous prisoner that Albert arrested was Dan Williams who was said to have killed his daughter’s children. Some say they were actually his own children, but that was not officially reported and Williams spent the rest of his life in prison. In 1918 Albert and Francis Gundy moved to Denver to live out the rest of their days. Records show that Francis Gundy is buried somewhere in the Catholic Cemetery, but her headstone has not been found.
James A. Gilmour: Born in the mining town of St. Mary, Pennsylvania in 1849, Gilmour was fascinated with mines and the mining industry at an early age, working alongside his father, neighbors and even friends. He decided to leave Pennsylvania and move to the Black Hawk, Central City area in 1874 in which he supervised and managed several local mines. The Gregory Mine, The Bobtail, Bonanza, Chase, and others were managed under the watchful eye of Gilmore. In 1878 married Eliza Brady and they had five children. Mr. Gilmore was elected to Gilpin County Treasurer sometime in the early 1890’s, the exact date was not clear. In 1895 Eliza passed away leaving Mr. Gilmore to raise the children along with Eliza’s sister, Margaret. Soon after Mrs. Gilmore death, Gilmore left the Treasurer’s office to become the Postmaster for Central City. He claimed to know everyone in town because of his position at the Post Office. In 1906 he decided to run for Mayor of Central City under a newly formed local political party known as the Independent Citizens Democratic Party. He won the election by a landslide in 1907 to become Central City’s Mayor. During the victory party at the Teller House surrounded by supporters, Gilmore collapsed and died from a massive heart attack. James A. Gilmore is known for being the Central City Mayor for only two hours.
James Henry Tierny: Born 1853 in Ireland, Tierny’s family migrated to the Colorado Territory when he was a young lad. In 1876 he married Anastasia and they had two children. During his lifetime, Tierny had several different jobs in the mines until he found an occupation as a carpenter that was most satisfying. Carpenters were in big demand in the growing towns of Central City, Black Hawk, Russel Gulch, and Nevadaville. In 1874 a fire swept through Central City burning over 150 wooden buildings in the town. Soon after that, the City decided to use brick and mortar for the buildings in town. One of the ingredients in the mortar mix was dirt form the mine tailings. “If you take close look at the mortar in some of these brick buildings,” Teirny said, “You will see specks of gold.”
Mary Stapleton: Born 1837 in Ireland, she longed to go to America and was finally able to do so. After settling in Connecticut for a while, she moved to Central City where she married Timothy Stapleton in 1874. She was a devout Catholic that always looked forward to Sunday Mass. She attended her garden and canned the fruits of her labor. In 1875 she gave birth to a daughter Johanna, who passed away a few weeks after she was born due to health conditions. In 1876 Ms. Stapleton gave birth to a healthy son William. On December 2, 1876 Mary died from an unknown cause. William was only seven months old. In 1879 Timothy and William moved to Leadville to mine in that area. When that didn’t pan-out, they moved to the Aspen Valley to ranch. Timothy returned on occasion to visit Mary’s grave. After a short rendition of “Amazing Grace,” Ms. Stapleton introduced her Great Grandchild Cody to the cemetery visitors.
Edward Leighy: He explained the story of the curious “Beehive Mausoleum” that we all see from the road. Constructed about 120 years ago from local brick, the mausoleum was a temporary holding grave for Edward Leighy’s mother. She died during the winter and wanted to be buried in Ireland. Edward had the mausoleum built so his mother could be attended to until he could make plans to ship her back to Ireland. We’re guessing he didn’t want her body staying in the house. After Mrs. Leighy was shipped back to Ireland, the mausoleum was utilized as a temporary holding grave for folks that died in the area during the winter months and couldn’t be buried due to the deep snow and the hardness of the frozen ground. Today, the structure stands as a one of a kind monument that reminds us of the wit of the early pioneers of Gilpin County had to overcome problems that our harsh winters present.
Paternoster: Paternoster and his family migrated from Italy to the east coast to open a restaurant in New York City, but he wanted to come west to Denver and eventually to Central City. He explained that Gilpin County in the 1890’s was bigger than Denver with over 30,000 residents and Central City should be the Capital of Colorado. The election was held and Central lost its bid by one vote. “What does that tell you?” ask Pasternoster, “Get out and vote!”
August 29, 1895 Paternoster and his best friend were working the fourth level of the Americas Mine, 700 feet below the surface. The top two levels had the Fisk, which was abandoned for a year, and Bobtail mines, the third level was Sleepy Hollow. The Fisk had filled with water, due to the inactivity, and miners working the Sleepy Hollow accidentally breached the wall holding back the water at 3:15 pm. Fourteen miners in the Sleepy Hollow and Americas died instantly of drowning. Miners on the top levels all escaped on wooden planks and ladders. Town folks that had friends and relatives that worked in the mines went berserk. Wives of the miners wanted to jump in the flooded mine to save their loved ones. They would have never survived. Paternoster was the last miner pulled from the flooded mineshaft in January 5, 1896. His headstone states that he was a loving father of six children and dedicated to his wife. After a long litigation process, the owners of the Fisk Mine were held liable and payed out $800 to each of the families of the deceased miners.
The Cemetery Crawl is a fun event that brings Gilpin County history alive. Hearing the stories gives us a true appreciation of the folks who came before us. Their history, as well as our own, should be honored, enjoyed, and preserved. In the words of the spirit of Elias B Snyder and poet George Santayana, “Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” A huge thank you goes out to all the volunteers and the Gilpin County Historical Society for hosting this year’s event.