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February 2008

2/2/2008

Now that the WWHA website is up and running, hopefully we'll have more time for things Blonger, for there are yet many things Blonger.

Forest Queen Letters

First I want to mention something that has been posted for a while, but never explored here: Lou Blonger's letters to O.W. Jackson, or Ow, as I like to call him (not really), and Jackson's wife after his death. We've already mentioned letters from Simon and Sam.

As you may remember, Lou and Ow were partners in the Forest Queen, along with brother Sam, Neil Dennison, J.W. McCullough, and others.

The owners of the Forest Queen were leasing their property. Others were working the claim, and paying a royalty to the owners. Much of the text deals with royalties -- setting them, getting them -- and there's a lot about the shafts and their imminent prospects.

The Arlington, Hot Springs, Ark.
Feb 13th 1908

Friend Jackson,
Your letter was cheerfully received this morning and must say that we were all glad to hear that the Queen has one more good showing. Something seems to tell me that it is all right — this mine. We will be home the 1st of March. We are taking baths and long walks every day. I walked about 8 miles today and feeling fine. Sam sends regards. There are lots of Denver Post people here at this hotel, among them Mr. Bonfils of the Post, and lots of others. If you write again direct your letter to this hotel. Hoping you and all are well. I remain,

Resp.
Lou Blonger

Lou was known to vacation yearly in Hot Springs, and meeting up with his boyhood friend, William Pinkerton. It recently came to our attention that Hot Springs was indeed known as a meeting place of both the overworld and underworld. We'll have to look into it.

Nov. 17th, 1919

Dear Mrs. Jackson,
Received your good letter and always glad to get them. I am geting all right and feeling prety good. The good old Forest Queen is all right. It gives us al a little change once and a while. I haven't heard from Gaylord for a long time. I saw Mr. Trask? yesterday. He said he didn't know anything, only that the McCullough interest, 1/4 of the Queen, was for sale for taxes, 1918 tax. I think when it is sold I will bid it on as he has forgot to pay. We are having nice weather. I will send you statement from the bank. Will close wishing good health for you and the boys.

As ever,
L. H. Blonger

Perhaps the most important thing we have learned from our encounter with the Forest Queen last July is that the mine made no one wealthy. It required constant infusion of capital to dig deeper and farther, which was always a crapshoot — but the mine was apparently a decent investment, paying out modest royalties for decades.

The final letter was dated a year and half prior to Lou's arrest in August of 1922.

Mar. 12th, 1921
Dear Mrs. Jackson,
I received your good letter just before I left Hot Springs and was glad to hear from you. The last four lines of Gaylord's letter is all right. It only means extension of the time to go to work. I will enclose a letter from Gaylord which will explain it all. I think Gaylord will come out all right. I saw a miner from Cripple yesterday. He says mining is looking up a little. With good wishes to the boys and wishing you well, as ever,
L. H. Blonger

-CJ


2/6/2008

Phil Van Cise: Scourge of Denver's Underworld

Reporter Alan Prendergast's new article on Van Cise was published yesterday in Westword, a long-time Colorado alternative newspaper. Fantastic article, and very well researched.

It's especially worth reading for his synopsis of Fighting The Underworld — and his assessment of the situation regarding the naming of Denver's new justice center, and the campaign to name it after Van Cise. Please check it out.

-CJ


2/7/2008

Gangs of Denver

This new article is just what we've been looking for:

Rocky Mountain News, October 17, 1895

BUNCO MAN AND POLICE
Between Them a Sucker Is Fleeced.
ONE WORKS, OTHER WINKS.
Harvest Time for the Street Thief and Saloon Worker
"Soapy" Smith's Old Game of the Large Bill in a Wrapped Package Worked Openly on Seventeenth Steet—Fakirs of Every Stripe Victimize People Under the Eyes of Officers—Two of the Losses Reported, One at Bunco Candy Stand and the Other at "T B" Game—Lou Blonger's Gang and Chase's Gang, Members Thereof and the Percentage Given the Steerer—How "T B" Is Worked.
It is the harvest time for the bunco men and he is abroad in the midst of the strangers who visit this city to make merry and enjoy the hospitality of Denver's citizens. The police have assumed an attitude of indifference and are making no attempt to block the games of fraud that are carried on. The bunco steerers are undisturbed and unobserved as far as the officers of the law are concerned.
Before the gray of the morning had cleared away yesterday the bunco steerer, the human type of the spider, was to be seen upon Seventeenth street. The candy man sold small bars of chocolate and licorice for $1 each and told the crowds who gathered about him that there were $10 bills inside the wrappers. His work was exactly similar to that of "Soapy" Smith and yesterday he gathered in at least $300.
Steerers and fakirs of every stripe worked upon Seventeenth street and hundreds if not thousands of dollars were paid these parasites by "suckers."
One of the Mexicans in the delegation sent by Senator Garcia from Trinidad lost $50 at the "T B" game.
Carl Johnson of Dubuque, Ia. lost $15 at the candy stand at the corner of Seventeenth and Market streets.
Victims are numbered by the dozen and the aggregate of the money lost cannot be calculated. In the lower part of the city there were two bunco joints, one at 1731 Market street, the other at 1759 Blake street. Lou Blonger and Ed Chase are bosses. Blonger runs the Market street joint while Chase's men steer their new acquaintances into the little store room on Blake street.
Worked Openly.
All these men were upon Seventeenth street yesterday, engaged in their nefarious work and the police made no efforts to round them up. True, a few days ago, Chief Goulding orderd the arrest of certain suspected persons and ordered them to leave the city. Not a single member of the Blonger or Chase outfits were called to headquarters or commanded to depart from the city and stay away during the festival. By order from Chief Goulding Tom Costigan, Annie Costigan, Belle Moore and several others were notified that they would be kept in jail unless they left. Costigan has been arrested before, but he never turned a bunco trick while his wife, Annie, has never been taken into custody here upon any charge save that of "suspicion." All those who did leave the city were without the "protection" that the bunco bosses appear to have at headquarters.
The secrets of the bunco business have been divulged and the revelations are of a startling character. Blonger pays his steerers 30 per cent of the amount they secure from their victims. Chase gives his steerers 40 per cent of their earnings. Part of the money left after the steerer is given his share is reserved for the "inside" men and "expenses." The headquarters of the bunco men at 1759 Blake and 1731 Market are called the "Big Mitt" joints. These places have been used for the purpose named for the past six months.
The games, all of the "sure thing" variety, carried on by the bunco men of Denver, are the "Big Mitt," the "T. B." and the "Lock."

The article goes on at length in its description of the "T B" game, or Top and Bottom, and the Big Mitt. Some of the text is, unfortunately, illegible, but goes on to describe the fix, the brush-off, and a new game in town — chocolate and licorice "wrapped in dollar bills," one of "'Soapy' Smith's practices."

Evidently the joint the Blonger's had on Market in 1892 was still around in '95. At this time we know "Lew Blonger's place" was at 1644 Larimer. For all we know they were also still doing business at 1744, 1740 and 1723 Larimer. Hard to say for sure at this point.

1728-40-44 Larimer

A year later they opened the Elite, which sounds like it lived up to it's name, but not for long...

Denver Evening Post, October 6, 1896

A MAGNIFICENT SALOON.
Will Be Opened by the Blongers This Evening.
Sam and Lewis Blonger open their magnificent palace saloon at 1628 Stout street, next to the Equitable Building, this evening. It is a veritable palace of luxury—mahogany fixtures and frescoed ceilings at a cost of $8,000—marble floors and an elegant cafe in the rear part of the saloon. In this cafe a fine merchants' lunch will be served from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. and this will be one of the features of which the genial proprietors will make a specialty. The interior of the new saloon is without doubt one that will be a feast for the eyes of anyone who loves the beautiful. The marble floor will glisten with splendor this evening, and in the language of one of the proprietors, "There isn't an old thing in the house."
This evening the gentlemen in charge will make a special effort to make friends for their new palace—not that they will not always do this, for it is a fact pretty generally known among the boys that Sam and Lew are built on just such plans and specifications. Mat Murray, formerly of the Arcade, Mr. Lockney and Mr. Kelley will be the bartenders in charge, and every one of them is well known in the city as genial, gentlemanly fellows.

Rocky Mountain News, October 25, 1896

...Nowadays men drink like gentlemen and it is little wonder that when they drink they insist on surroundings befitting them. There are gentlemen in Denver who realize this truth. They are the Messrs. Blonger Brothers. They have constructed a temple?a palace?at 1624 Stout street for the accommodation of gentlemen who, for infirmities and for good fellowship, now and then indulge a cup that braces up and cheers. They have named this veritable place The Elite. There is nothing like it anywhere. There is nothing equal to it in richness of material or design or price in any other Western city. It must be seen to be appreciated...

Our assumption, based on Fighting the Underworld, was that the Elite was the Blongers' outpost for many years. But the truth was, they overplayed their hand. Either Denver was not ready for a lavish drinking establishment, or the Blongers seriously overspent trying to bolster their respectability. The Elite pulled up lame coming out of the gate. It closed after only three months.

-CJ


2/9/2008

Lou the Mediator

The Rocky Mountain News of April 19, 1894 has Lou and fellow saloonman S.H. Watrous acting as mediators in a labor dispute between Cigarmaker's union #29 and the Solis Cigar Co. Watrous was John Murphy's partner at the Exchange, and known to post a bail or two.

-CJ


2/10/2008

Junius Young and the DR&G

Another name to drop: we've known for a few months that Sam sold a parcel of land in Salt Lake City to Junius Young in 1889. This sticks out because the Blongers hadn't resided there in years.

What we didn't realize is that Junius Young was a grandson of Mormon president Brigham Young — one child of Young's fifty-six sons and daughters.

Brigham Young was founder of Salt Lake City, after leading most of Joseph Smith's church out of Illinois and into the Utah desert. He was first governor of Utah, and oversaw the establishment of settlements in that state, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and even Mexico.

Junius' father, Joseph Angell Young, was made an apostle of the church by his father Brigham.

Brigham Young was instrumental in bringing railroad projects to Utah. Junius, nineteen at the time of his transaction with Sam, became a photographer for the Denver & Rio Grande — which runs through Salt Lake City. It was the DR&G that Sam and Lou are said to have helped build, but we have usually looked south, to Santa Fe. But perhaps their involvement — contracting to grade the bed, perhaps? — was elsewhere. A quick synopsis of the railroad:

  • Founded in 1870 with the intention of connecting Denver with Mexico City
  • Reaches Cañon City in 1874
  • Alamosa in 1878, eventually reaches Santa Fe and Creede
  • June 1879, a gang led by Bat Masterson defends the Santa Fe roundhouse in Pueblo from the DR&G
  • Salida reached via Royal Gorge in 1880, then Leadville later that year
  • Gunnison and Durango in 1881, and Silverton in 1882
  • Grand Junction in 1883, which completed a link with the Rio Grande Western Railroad to Salt Lake City
  • Aspen in October 1887

So how might the Blongers fit on that timeline? Perhaps they worked on the Denver & Rio Grande Western in the Salt Lake vicinity in the early 1870's. Maybe the lines to Leadville, Gunnision or Durango around 1880. Maybe they were involved in the Royal Gorge War, maybe, in some way. Or maybe Aspen in 1887. Sam was up that way, and Simon too.

-CJ


The Elite

Another Rocky Mountain News article, Christmas Eve, 1896, on the Elite Saloon tells us:

Among the many choice brands of liquor they dispense at their bar is the famous John W. McCullough 10-year-old whisky, which is one of their specialties.

No surprise there. Lou sold an interest in the Forest Queen to J.W. for 20 barrels of the stuff. He had product to move!

Whatever might have been left in February 1897 went on the auction block when Blonger Bros. defaulted on their mortgage. W.G. Brown picked up the whole saloon for $3180 on March 3.

-CJ


2/12/2008

Alan Prendergast

Westword's ace reporter Alan Prendergast, our own version of the Post's intrepid Forbes Parkhill, spent some time with KHOW's Peter Boyles and urged everybody to come on by and sign the petition. Which reminds me: SIGN THE PETITION, please.

-CJ


2/15/2008

The Chair

Another tidbit from Westword, concerning those tiny chairs in the basement of the Universalist Church. The arrested con men, the Wolves of Seventeeth Street, found little else on which to recline in their makeshift jail.

The Chair

-CJ


2/17/2008

Various and Sundry

Sept 1887 - "Reddy" Blonger is in a prize fight in Pittsburgh. Never hoid of 'im.


1894-02-26 - Charlie Barnum, opium addict, dies. His body is given to science. It is reported that he was once offered $500 for his besotted body. Four years later he was still kicking, warming chairs and spinning yarns of the West at Chase's or Lew Blonger's. Years ago he worked for Chase and the Blonger Bros. — in fact he had worked for the Blongers in Nevada and was forever welcome to sit in their joint and take charity. That and twenty grains of opium a day.


1896-01-11 - Queen of the California Gang May Bigelow is surprised to be in court as DA Greeley Whitford had said she wouldn't be prosecuted in exchange for her testimony -- in the Demady trial. May was a known associate of the Blongers, her bondsmen. Richard Demady was charged with the murder of his prostitute mistress/wife by strangulation, and prosecuted by Blonger partner Neil Dennison. Lou was excused from the jury as he had developed an opinion on the case. One witness claims Lou's saloon, where several meetings critical to the case were held, was no dive, but a first-class establishment.


1896-02-10 - DA Whitford is asked to impanel an "extraordinary grand jury" to investigate the extortion of saloon men, bunko men and prostitutes by high officials at the police and detectives depts. Gamblers gave big money to elect Republicans in last election. Charges were brought by friends of officers and detectives recently discharged. The Post has names but ain't telling.


1896-02-21 - Attorney Col. Dennison defends a murderer, claiming the insanity of the defendant's mother and grandmother is reflected in his behavior. The insanity defense was in wide use in the 1890s, but the Colonel's case didn't go well — the defendant was apparently too sane.


1896-02-23 . Judge Harper, accused of harrassing Denver's gamblers, and of using his office basement as a makeshift jail, lashes out against DA Whitford — who is in league with those trying to kick Harper off the bench and even prosecute him. After explaining the law he invokes to remain in office, he says further:

Policy King Speaks
I desire to say that the statement that I have terrorized the outcasts and gamblers is willfully and maliciously false. I deny that I have had my cellar prepared for a jail. I deny the statement that warrants once issued have been destroyed. In short there is not in the entire article in the Republican a statement that is not wholly, willfully and knowingly false.
One more denial and I am done. On Monday, on complaints duly signed and sworn in strict accordance wih the law, I issued nine warrants against Ed. Chase and his policy sharks, charging them with the violation of the laws of the state. Shortly after the issuance of these warrants and before service of the same, and before any arrests had been made, Chase appeared at my office and offered to pay me $1,500 if I would allow him and his hirelings to ply their nefarious policy business without inteference while I held office. He also offered as an inducement immunity from the law to see that the district attoney did not interfere. Both these impudent offers were were refused by me, hence the article in the Republican. When the injunction proceedings instituted against me by Chase shall have been determined by the district court, I shall act as I always have, in strict accordance with the law. If such temporary injunction is dissolved by Mr. Chase, with the aid of Mr. Whitford and the Denver Republican will not conduct a policy institution in this county.
I do not believe in trying a case at law in the newspapers, but Mr. Whitford has seen fit to do so, and having willfully misstated facts I have deemed it my duty to reply. Far from delaying the settlement of this controversy I have at all times attempted to have it speedily settled, but I absolutely refuse to surender my office to Ed. Chase, or to anyone else, unless I am called upon to surrender it by due process of law. If Mr. Whitford and his following will meet me in the courts instead of in the newspapers the controversy will be speedily determined.

1896-04-04. The Governor, DA Whitford and Sheriff Webb insist that undersheriff (and Blonger associate) Perry Clay be sent to pick up Matt Adams in England, and all hell breaks loose. The County Commission wants him, and the Pinkertons helped catch him. Now the commission won't pay for the trip, and the Pinkertons won't help in any more manhunts while the Gov is in office.

Adams is wanted for embezzling $28,000 as a district clerk. He resigned, left a letter for the county judges, and took off for England.

It is thought sending Clay was an indication Adams had friends in Denver who want to handle his case. That, and he's a drunk. Whitford requests a special prosecutor try the case.


Simon's son Frank was evidently a competitive runner and cyclist.

-CJ


2/21/2008

Additional Sundry

Jan. 6, 1882 - Superintendent Simon, a "general favorite with those who know him," is presented with a $575 diamond stud by his men at the Robert E. Lee mine.


Oct., 1882 - We've long wondered about Lou's love life in Albuquerque. He was married at some point during the year 1882 to Emma Loring. In September an otherwise unnamed madam is referred to in print as "Blonger's woman." In fact, Lou pistol whips his buddy Van Tassel for disrespecting her, saying "You s— of a b—, you can't talk to my woman in that way." Woman, not wife. And now we find that "L.H. Blonger and wife" arrived in Denver from Albuquerque in October. More weight to the theory Emma was the madam in question? Or perhaps Lou met her on a trip to San Francisco — say, in early October — and they got hitched on a whim?

Complicating the matter, we know of two other Albuquerque prostitutes who apparently took Lou's name: Kitty and Mollie. Kitty shot a man in the rear of an Arizona saloon in 1888. Lou came to her rescue. About the same time, Mollie was busted back in Albuquerque for running a house. Either might have been "Blonger's woman."


Jan. 3 1886 - The Buckeye State mine on Sugar Loaf Mountain is partly owned by E. Blonger. Lou's Emma, perhaps? Sam's Ella? Edward was pretty young.

As it happens, Tami and I spent a night camping on Sugar Loaf Mountain last July...


July 28, 1886 - Simon is connected with the London Mining Co.. Still around and proud of it.


April 22, 1888 - J.B. Thompson of Texas dies of an opium overdose. Thug and gambler, claimed to be cousin to legendary gunfighter Ben Thompson, recently killed in Texas. Does odd jobs, and spends time gambling at rooms of Sam Blonger on Fifteenth. Claimed to have a $10,000 judgment leaning in his favor back in Texas, but outstanding murder warrants prevented his return to the state. It's not known if the OD was intentional, but he was a heavy user.


May 15, 1889 - Denver gambling house men, including "S. E. Blonger," are called to pay a $50 fine. The policy shop men are called in too, and fined $10, but Chase is not mentioned in either list (except BD Chase). By 1895 Chase's name would be all over this story, but not yet. And the Blongers are just warming up.


Nov. 18, 1892 - Ben Perry is arrested at 17th and Lawrence for selling property he didn't own. His last arrest concerned a gold watch and diamonds stolen from Lew Blonger, who followed him to Pueblo and had an exciting chase.

Perry once tapped the telegraph into Bannigan's poolroom, above a Blonger saloon on Larimer, and "won" $2600. This was pre-"wire con," when the taps were real. It was the eventual defeat of this tactic by Western Union that inspired con men to create their own betting parlors, where they could control the fate of every bet and every race.

Other references indicate, by the way, that a pool room in this sense is a place where one bets pools.

-CJ


2/23/2008

Leadville in Crisis

A drainage tunnel in the hills above Leadville has collapsed, trapping millions of gallons of water in the mine tunnels, and it's backing up into the water table, along with zinc and a bunch of other toxic substances. Some are also worried about a catastrophic collapse that might send a flood into residential areas not far from town.

More

-CJ


Jim Blaine

Mentioned here a few days ago, Jim Blaine may have been known to Mark Twain too. This is from Twain's Roughing It, Part 6 (1880):

Every now and then, in these days, the boys used to tell me I ought to get one Jim Blaine to tell me the stirring story of his grandfather's old ram..but they always added that I must not mention the matter unless Jim was drunk at the time..just comfortably and sociably drunk.

-CJ


More Various

Sam, Lew and Frank Lester (also involved in Farragher incident) were arrested for taking $83 from James Pyle, a rancher from Houston, in the saloon at 1744 Larimer.


Nov. 11, 1893, RMN . "The side betting which usually accompanies so exciting a political contest in heavy amounts, did not appear conspicuously in any of the resorts last evening. They were seemingly more ready to see someone bet, than venture themselves. The sheriff had two or three deputies around at Blonger's on Larimer street looking for easy snaps and there were a few excursions out by some of Jeff Smith's people, but they came back unaccompanied."


A Boston article in 1895 about the death of a mining millionaire.turned.pauper quotes a Chicago woman as saying you could ask the Blonger Bros. and Jeff Argyle about him.


Nov. 1, 1895 . Gambling declared open again after City Hall War and the Crackdown of 1894.


Nov. 11, 1895 . RMN insinuates Lou's men may have been paying voters at the polls simply to help Lou win his bets on Webb for sheriff.


Jan. 1, 1896 . Three dissipated gamblers die at Cripple Creek, including Jim Blaine, Yale grad and former attache to Soapy Smith, but best known by Sam Blonger, who knew him as far back as Salt Lake City (1871.74). Sam says he'd been drunk for twenty years. Buck White, also arrested in the Farragher incident, was described as well.liked and scrupulously honest with his friends.

Denver Evening Post, Feb. 22, 1896

BUNKO AND POLICY MUST STOP
President Webber of the fire and police board has given imperative orders to Sam Blonger that no more bunco steering will be tolerated in the city. No more policy shops will be allowed to run, and those operated by Edward Chase will be closed at once.

Oct. 10, 1896 . An article on a Home Rule petition, supporting Alva Adams for gov and Teller for senator, notes the proposal unites the Lions and the Lambs, Democrats and Fusion Repubs. All the lambs are either Hon. or Capt. The Lions include "Sheeny Sam" Emerich, Det. Duffield, Bill Arnett, Sam Blonger and Bascomb Smith. I think this may be the start of the so-called Combine, decried for weeks to come.

-CJ


2/25/2008

Buffalo Bill's Wild West

Yet another nugget from the sluice.

In July of 1913, things weren't going so well for Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and Bonfils and Tammen of the Denver Post, already owners of the Sells.Floto Circus — and Cody's creditors — repossessed the show. Tammen, an old and dear friend of Lou's, then coerced Cody into making appearances for Sells.Floto. Tammen once asserted that Lou taught him everything he knew about catching a sucker (Bonfils).

A receipt on the letterhead of Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East shows that on August 18, L.H. Blonger sold the Wild West show two truckloads of hay (I think hay), 163 bales at 50 lbs. per bale, for a total of $24.45.

More to the point, the load was signed for on behalf of the show's receiver, D.C. Bailey — who just happened to be mayor ten years later at the time of Lou's arrest and trial. Small world.

Rocky Mountain News, March 27, 1923

Dewey C. Bailey
OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR BAILEY
To Mayor Dewey C. Bailey:
Yesterday you caused to be printed in the paid advertising columns of the Denver papers an announcement of your candidacy for re.election as mayor of Denver.
In justice to the main prominent and law.abiding citizens whose names you caused to be printed in your paid ad you might give publicity to your views on certain things that at this minute are agitating Denver.
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN your silence in the face of repeated sworn statements on the witness stand that the alleged bunko ring on trial in the West Side court was working under protection of your police department?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why law.abiding citizens without prison records are thrown into jail on the least pretext and held there—in some cases allowed to die without medical care—while certain members of the alleged bunko ring, boasting long jail sentences, are given more consideration and treated with more courtesy by your personal appointees than could or would be commanded by highly respected citizens?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why Tom Clarke, your deputy sheriff, was permitted to make honor guests of certain members of this alleged confidence gang and turn over to them a room in the West Side court building for the staging of a wild orgy, when in all justice they shoud be behind bars the same as any other alleged law violator awaiting decision of a jury?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why your warden of the county jail made special arrangements for these same members of the alleged bunk ring, placing cots in the office of the jail for their comfort during the time they were in custody?
You are responsible to the people of Denver for the acts of your appointees, and if you are not willing to accept this responsibility you have no right to be mayor of Denver.
The attitude of your administration thruout the trial of the alleged bunko ring has been one of opposition toward the district attorney and the special prosecutors and one of protection and condolence toward the accused men.
Denver's fair name is at stake. The open operations of an international bunko ring in Denver is a paramount issue in the coming city election. If you are to be a candidate for re.election, the people of Denver demand to know and have a right to know where you stand on this question.
A CITIZEN AND A TAXPAYER

What's more, Bailey was apparently a U.S. Marshal around 1898.1900. You can find his badge on this page.

-CJ


2/28/2008

Old Jim Blaine

I see that Jim Blaine, the old gambler who died around New Year's day, 1896, shared his name with a Republican Senator who ran unsuccessfully against Grover Cleveland in 1884. Looking through Colorado Historic Newspapers, I see other Blaines named for candidate Blaine .. a horse, a mine, even a dog out in Fairplay. But Twain's Blaine could still be our man. If he is an actual person, one would expect they might have met in Virginia City in the early 1860's, a possibility for gambler Blaine, as far as we know.

-CJ


Buffalo Bill's Wild West

Let's take a little closer look at this. According to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite website, "Cody returned to Denver another ten years later (1879) to perform in a local opera house with the Buffalo Bill Combination. He continued to tour through Colorado, performing at the Central City Opera (still in operation) and at another opera house in Georgetown."

The McClellan, actually, in July. Lou and/or Sam had a theater in Georgetown, at an unknown location, for a short time in 1879.

Novelty Theatre

The site also claims Cody performed thity-five times in Denver between 1886 and 1916.

On the subject of the Wild West show's finances:

Harry Tammen
In 1912 Buffalo Bill needed financing for his show and went to Harry Tammen of Denver for a $20,000 loan. In 1908 he had combined his show with Pawnee Bill's under the title Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East. In 1913 the combined show arrived for a Denver performance date at the time the $20,000 loan was due. To their surprise the show was seized by the sheriff's and held to pay off the $20,000 debt. Since Cody did not have that much cash available at the time and Tammen would not extend the loan, Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East was sold off at auction in Denver. Continuing to use the debt as leverage, Tammen then forced Buffalo Bill to appear in Tammen's Sells.Floto circus. It was clear that had been his objective all along. In 1915, Buffalo Bill finally got out of his coerced agreement with Tammen.

Dewey C. Bailey, future mayor, was receiver. Both Bailey and Tammen were old pals with Lou, and both found themselves involved in Lou's final drama.


Hunt Down

This is from Hunt Down, by W.R. Garwood, Leisure Books, just out, well, today.

He sometimes saw and played against such noted sports as the old con man, Lou Blonger, and Wyatt Earp, long gone from Arizona and dealing faro that winter at another of the Larimer establishments, the Arcade.

-CJ


February 2008


 

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