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The Famous Blonger Bros.


May 2009



A few new tidbits from the Leadville Daily Herald, courtesy of Colorado Historic Newspapers:

In the February 16, 1881 issue, we see that Taylor et al vs. Blonger et al is stricken from the trial calendar. A mystery.

In the same column, a few familiar names pop up. Along with numerous others, Bill Nuttall — of Deadwood fame (the #10 saloon where Hickok died) — had cases dismissed by the DA with leave to reinstate; keeping a saloon, and keeping a theatre. Nuttall later showed up in Albuquerque in 1882, accused of conspiring with con man Con Caddigan to con a sucker out of his last few dollars, right about the time Sam and Lou high-tailed it out of New Mexico.

T.C. Howard and Charles Laiscelles were also let off the hook for keeping a saloon and theatre. In 1879 Laiscelles was business manager of the Novelty Theatre in Georgetown. A Blonger was running the show — the smart money says it was Lou.

Novelty Theater

In March of 1881 Samuel Marco was charged by Simon with stealing powder from Leadville's Robert E. Lee mine, where Simon was superintendent.

In September of 1882, Simon led a company of society folk on a tour of the Robert E. Lee.

October 6, 1882, "The Lee mine still continues to be the great property about Leadville, and new developments are constantly being made by the mine superintendent, Mr. Simon Blonger, which add to the value and importance of the mine. Great ore bodies of exceeding richness are left standing in the already developed portions of the mine and the present policy of the management of the mine is to push forward new development work and to open up new territory."

In February of 1883, as a member of the Colorado legislature, Simon voted for a bill to tax the net output of Colorado mines. The next day, the Daily Herald said "It would perhaps be unreasonable to expect intelligent action from Costello, but better things were hoped for from Blonger."

February 13, 1883, an article from the Santa Fe New Mexican, describing the discovery of ancient tools in the Bottom Dollar Mine by "Blonger and Whalen" — Joe Blonger, that is — is quoted, noting that the Blonger mentioned is brother to Simon. The New Mexican article is, in fact, one of the very first articles we came across in our search for the Blongers.

The New Mexican, April 21, 1883

Discovery of Old Workings, Stone Hammers and Chisels.
Messrs. Blonger and Whalen, who have the contract of sinking a shaft in the Bottom Dollar mine, near Cerrillos, made an interesting discovery on Monday last. While working at a depth of 110 feet they dropped into an old tunnel made by the Spaniards no less than 200 years ago and out of the debris they took a number of stone hammers, chisels and picks and found every evidence that this mine belongs to the same class of sliver producing mines as does the Mina del Tiro property, which is the most perfect Spanish mine yet discovered in this part of the country. These stone tools were left in the mine by the Pueblo Indians, and have lain there since the revolt of 1680, at which time the Indians filled up the mines with rubbish to hide them and prevent the Spaniards from discovering and working them. The owners of this mine, who are in Santa Fe, are very much gratified of this evidence of the former value of the Bottom Dollar property. Messrs. Blonger and Whalen will resume work to-day and will bring these old chisels and hammers to Santa Fe to-morrow or the day following.

It was later at the Bottom Dollar, in 1887, that Joe shot his boss, Alexander Allan — with Allan's own gun — as Allan was about to crush Silas Smith's head with a rock. Joe and Silas has expressed an interest in going to Santa Fe for a little recreation, and Allan objected. Strenuously.

On February 21 of 1883, Simon's resignation from the Robert E. Lee was accepted.

On April 27 of 1884, Simon and "Dr. Eyer" were noted as the new lessees of section 9 of the New Pittsburg claim. This raises the distinct possibilty that the so-called "Blonger Shaft" is named for Simon.

Blonger Shaft

In August of 1886, Simon is working for the Trophy Mining company.



Speaking of the theatre...



World Travelers

Scott found a new article indicating Sam and wife Virginia traveled to Algiers in February of 1903, sailing out of Havana. Bon Voyage!

Lottie Deno

Picked up a copy of Jan Devereaux's brand new book the other day, Pistols, Petticoats & Poker, The Real Lottie Deno: No Lies or Alibis (High-Lonesome Books). A great read. Lottie — Carlotta Thompkins — was a western original indeed, a lady of the evening, and high-stakes gambler in her own right, having bested the likes of Doc Holliday. Some even say she was the inspiration for Gunsmoke's Miss Kitty.

Later in life, with her husband Frank Thurmond, she cultivated a reputation as a lady of the highest caliber, a pillar of society in Deming, Kingston and Silver City, New Mexico.

More to the point — and you new there would be one — Scott and I were privileged to contribute our two cents to the project. The Blonger connection was two-fold.

1. The Earp Posse connection. When things got too hot in Arizona after their infamous Vendetta ride, Wyatt, Holliday and the boys made for sanctuary in Colorado — making two notable stops along the way. First, in Silver City, where evidence suggests they dined surreptiously at Lottie's restaurant (and may even have stayed overnight with Lottie and Frank). As mentioned, Lottie was at least acquainted with Holliday, and maybe even Wyatt.

Then, after leaving Silver City, the posse stayed for more than a week in New Albuquerque, where, with Sam away on business (Colorado, coincidentally), Lou was acting marshal. Again, Lou was probably acquainted with Doc, and perhaps Wyatt. He was certainly an associate of Earp's friend Bat Masterson and others of the Dodge City/Tombstone crowd. Dodge City gambler and Masterson associate Charles Ronan served occasionally as one of Sam's deputies.

It's easy to assume (though unproven) that the posse made for both towns in the knowledge they had friends who could provide shelter and assistance.

2. Though (notoriously incomplete) census records do not bear it out, Lou indicated in his military pension file that after leaving Albuquerque, he lived with Frank Thurmond and Lottie for five years in Silver City, Kingston and Deming. Devereaux's timeline places the Thurmond's in these locations as well. It could be that Lou did some traveling during this time, but he does note two local doctors who cared for his varicose veins, which were purportedly caused by a fall during his brief service during the Civil War, and the reason for his pension request.

What's more, in Black Range Tales, local prospector McKenna notes that Lou "Blanger" was among the big gamblers at Kingston, along with the Thurmond brothers.

Devereaux makes the point that, though the Thurmonds were, by then, interested in cultivating their image as civic leaders — and they were — their apparent continued association with Lou was no feather in their collective cap...

Well, done, Jan.

And thanks for the nod to our research and this website, noted in several footnotes.


May 2009



Genealogy - History - Gang - Posse - Evening Review
The Grafters Club - Novelty Emporium - Blonger Bros. Fake Restaurant