Schedule & Presentations
Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes, & Hidden Heroes of the Pikes Peak Region
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Reserve your seats for this free event!
Reserve your seats for this free event!
Saturday, June 9, 2018, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m.—Doors Open at East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9 a.m.—Welcome & Opening Remarks
9:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Writers, Readers, Movers & Shakers - Heroes
Michael L. Olsen--"Andy Adams - Cowboy Extraordinaire"
More than 100 years after its publication (1903), Andy Adams' fictionalized memoir, The Log of a Cowboy, is still regarded as the most authentic account of a 19th century cattle drive ever written. Adams, born in 1859, was a resident of Colorado Springs from 1894 to his death in 1935. This presentation will highlight Adams as a renowned writer of the American West and draw a connection to Colorado Springs' continuing "cowboy and cattle" heritage.
Maria Sanchez Tucker--"Andrew McClelland, A Most Interesting Library Patron"
Pueblo, Colorado’s first public library was named after prominent Pueblo businessman, Andrew McClelland, who served as President of the Pueblo Board of Trade and was a lifetime Library Board Member. He went on a trip around the world from 1908-1910, sending reports to The Pueblo Chieftain about his travels. He returned with a variety of artifacts, including two Egyptian mummies, one that currently is being preserved at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. His wife, Columbia Jane, was also a philanthropist and funded the McClelland Children’s Orphanage. In 1911, Mr. McClelland was embroiled in controversial politics and scandals that almost resulted in his name being removed from the Library that was named in honor of him. Learn more about this interesting historical figure and one of Southern Colorado's most intriguing philanthropists and businessman.
Katherine Sturdevant--"Hidden Hero at the Printing Press: Emma F. Langdon and Miners’ Rights"
Emma Florence Langdon (1875-1937) came to Victor, Colorado, with her husband Charles at a historic moment. Charles co-published the Victor Daily Record newspaper. Emma was also a linotype operator. During the 1904 miners’ union strike, when anti-union retaliations fell to violent confrontation, the National Guard imprisoned the paper’s male staff. Emma rose to the occasion, printed the news, and personally distributed the papers. National attention fell on her. Her life reveals much about women as workers and seemingly unlikely heroes. Langdon became the strike’s historian, second only to her friend, “Mother Jones,” among noted women working with the controversial miners’ organizations.
Susan Fletcher--"The Epic Tale of Lt. James W. Downing"
Until his recent death at the age of 104, American hero Lt. James W. Downing was the second oldest-living Pearl Harbor survivor. Born in 1913, Downing joined the Navy at age 19. On December 7, 1941, he rushed into the chaos to put out fires aboard his sinking ship the USS West Virginia. As the postmaster aboard the ship, he memorized the names of his mortally wounded shipmates so he could write home to their families. After WWII, he led an epic life that included captaining a vessel during the Korean War, surviving radiation fallout from the H-bomb testing in the Bikini Islands, raising a family, and becoming a prominent leader in The Navigators. This presentation will explore Lieutenant Downing’s story and will examine the creation of his heroic historical legacy during his last five years of life. It will also discuss the friendship between a historian and her subject by exploring the experience of documenting Downing’s story while he was still living.
Mike Olsen--Questions & Answers
10:45 – 11 a.m. Break
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Provocateurs - Rascals & Heroes
David Rasmussen--"John 'Prairie Dog' O’Byrne: Showman, Storyteller and Historian"
John O’Byrne is famous for his team of elk, Thunder and Buttons, and for the prairie dog running on a wheel he kept in the back of his wagon. But there is more to this “remarkable rascal.” For years, he was a sought after tour guide in the Pikes Peak Region. He knew the history of the area from its earliest days, and visitors requested him by name to hear his first-hand accounts. This presentation recounts the best of these from his 1923 publication: Pikes Peak or Bust: and Historical Sketches of the Wild West.
Deborah Harrison & Bernard A. Schriever II--"F.L.M. Smith: The Best Colorado Conman You’ve Never Heard Of"
While many have heard of the infamous Soapy Smith, there was another Smith; an equally successful, though not as famous, conman and truly a remarkable rascal. He went by the name F.L.M. Smith and was involved with gambling, snake oil scams, lewd art galleries, the Louisiana Lottery, dance halls and mining speculation to name a few. He was caught out occasionally, but otherwise lived an anonymous if not honest life. Soapy Smith’s fame led to his death in Skagway while F.L.M. Smith survived his adventures a much wealthier man.
Erinn Barnes--"Between Two Worlds: Buckskin Charley, Sherman Coolidge and the Struggle for a New American Indian Identity"
Subjugated, dispossessed, and reeling from decades of war, the twentieth century presented American Indians with unprecedented pressures threatening to erase their very existence. The lives of two remarkable native leaders briefly intersected with Colorado Springs during this pivotal time of transition. Buckskin Charley, famed Ute Chief and Rev. Sherman Coolidge, Arapahoe and Episcopalian priest, tackled the challenges facing their people with radically different methods. Yet their lives reveal the common heroic efforts of American Indians to resist and redefine an authentic American Indian identity for a new century.
Leah Davis Witherow--"A Search for Identity: The Life and Work of Civil Rights Activist Charles Banks"
A veteran of the Spanish American War, Charles Banks served proudly in Company B, 24th Infantry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers. After moving to Colorado Springs in 1904, Charles Banks worked tirelessly to promote equality and oppose racial segregation and discrimination. He served as a page in the Colorado State House in the 1930s and used his personal connections with State Senator Edwin Johnson to urge enactment of the 1935 Colorado Civil Rights Amendment. In the 1940s, Banks organized a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent sit-ins at local businesses in violation of Colorado Civil Rights Law. Despite his public activism, Banks remains a bit of an enigma. Genealogical records reveal conflicting evidence regarding his ancestry and so do his personal accounts. Recent research reveals more about the historical puzzle surrounding one of the most influential and interesting citizens in Colorado Springs History.
Mike Olsen--Questions & Answers
12:30 - 1:15 - Complimentary Light Lunch
1:15 – 3:15 p.m.
The Long Arm of the Law - Despicables & Heroes
Mariah Hudson--"A Real Rat on America’s Mountain – Rattlesnake James and the Murder of Winona Wallace"
In 1932, using the pseudonym Robert James, Alabama-born charmer Major Lisenba (1894-1942) slithered through the Pikes Peak region with his new bride, Winona Wallace (1903-1932). Lisenba first tried, but failed, to kill the young beauty within the carnage of an orchestrated car accident off America’s Mountain; his next attempt inside their Manitou cottage several weeks later was a success. Lisenba swiftly pocketed a healthy insurance payment for the “accidental” death of his wife and fled the region. It would be another three years however, before Lisenba would truly earn the distinction of his nickname “Rattlesnake James” and only after a scandalous wave of horrible crimes.
Dwight Haverkorn--"The Frank Lewis/Dale Jones Gang – Killers in Colorado Springs"
Known as one of the most vicious criminal gangs west of the Mississippi, the notorious Frank Lewis/Dale Jones Gang robbed banks and trains, stole copper wire and cars, and engaged in shootouts with police, killing nine law enforcement officers from 1913 through 1918. On Friday the 13th of September in 1918, Colorado Springs Chief of Detectives John William Rowan was killed in a downtown shootout with three of the gangsters, an event that preceded the end of the gang’s brutal reign of terror.
Doris McCraw--"Who was Joe Ward? The Tale of the Man at the Center of Colorado Springs’ First Sensational Murder Trial"
From February to April, 1879, Colorado Springs was tantalized by the trial of Joe Ward, the accused killer of Lafayette Shideler. Found guilty and sentenced to the territorial prison in Canon City, following his release, a news headline recorded his fate: “Called to account -Joe Ward, the slayer of Shideler, riddled with bullets, the career of a noted Colorado desperado terminated....” But the story does not end there. With limited published personal descriptions or photos available along with frequently biased editorial accounts, discerning the truth of a past news story is difficult. In the case of Joe Ward, many factors lead one to wonder if his murder was a case of mistaken identity. Was the dead Joe Ward a wanton killer? Was he a different Joe Ward who lived a quiet life? Was he a different Joe Ward who lived a life of crime? An examination of the events and people both from the perspective of then and now will provide a truer picture of the outcome of the man who was labeled the “slayer of Shideler.”
John Anderson--"Rankin Scott Kelly and Robert Finley, Businessmen, County Officials and Hidden Heroes"
Scott Kelly and Robert Finley helped tame the American West and established the foundation upon which El Paso County government was built. In 1860, the enterprising young bachelors established the first sawmill, one of the earliest businesses in the Pikes Peak Region. On February 28, 1861, Robert Finley became El Paso County’s first Treasurer, and Scott Kelly its first Sheriff. By the close of 1862, Finley had collected $138.00 in taxes and Kelly had been involved in shootouts with local thieves and rustlers. From having served as El Paso County's 26th Sheriff, John Anderson suggests that it remains to be seen which of the two hidden heroes had the more difficult job.
Mike Olsen--Questions & Answers
3:15 – 4:30 p.m.
Reception & Oh! Oh! I Know That