El Paso County journalism linage and origins


Crusher, Gold Rush, Palmer Lake News, Ute Pass Courier, Pikes Peak Journal and more

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Having worked at a number of El Paso County newspapers in Colorado over the years, I find their linage interesting. My own experience, with papers in Monument, and Teller County (which, until 1899, originally was mostly in El Paso County,) and Colorado Springs general interest, business and military papers, makes their stories part of my own narrative. 

The first edition of the Ute Pass Courier, for example, hit the streets on July 23, 1964.
"A morally bankrupt publisher, who was printing the short-lived Woodland Park paper called the Eagle, skipped town with the subscription money from local residents after 10 issues," according to later articles in the Courier.

"Manfred (Monte ) and Agnes (Ag) Schupp saved the paper from scandal and early demise," reported the Courier at the 25th anniversary of the publication. "About one month after he stole out of town, the Schupps put out their inaugural edition of 500 copies. Staff included Tom Bonifield, then owner of Woodland Pharmacy, and M.E. "Pete" Brown, who owned the Browncraft Steakhouse. He was later instrumental in establishing Langstaff-Brown Medical Center."

The paper was first printed in La Junta and was taken there by bus and returned Thursday mornings for distribution.

"The driving force behind the Courier, Agnes (also a mother and free-lance writer) often used her kitchen table as the production room for the paper," the paper reported later. "She suffered from a heart condition which was aggravated by the area's high elevation, and during her failing health she sold half interest to Maureen Jones in the fall of 1965."

Agnes Schupp died of heart attack June 19, 1966, and Manfred and Jones sold full interest to Roy and Carol Lee Robinson Sept. 1, 1966. Publisher, editor and reporter for 12 years, Roy Robinson received many honors and awards from Colorado Press Association for the paper's overall progress. During his tenure, the Courier was published in Cripple Creek along with Cripple Creek Times, then owned by his father, B.G. Robinson.

Another example is found in the business and journalism exploits of Ernest Chapin Gard. Gard seemed determined to make his mark on the world, even as young man. Evidence of his talents became manifested in a talent for stringing words together.
Perhaps he was thinking along those lines when in 1880 as a 23-year-old newspaperman, he scratched out his moniker above those of members of the gold-seeking Lawrence Party on Signature Rock in Garden of the Gods.

Gold’s discovery in the Cripple Creek District precipitated Gard and his partner’s race to become the first newspaper in Cripple Creek. He pulled out all the stops to beat William McRea by four days, publishing the first edition of the Cripple Creek Crusher on Dec. 4, 1891. Descendant of the Crusher and other consolidations, The Cripple Creek Gold Rush still published until 2007 when it became incorporated into Pikes Peak Courier View, of Woodland Park. 

Gard, and partner W.S. Neal, celebrated the feat by printing in gilded ink — a layer of gold over the regular ink — for the inaugural edition. McRea, four days late and perhaps more than a dollar short, sported vermilion headlines that said “New Gold Field.”

In general, Gard was noted for not trying to hold anything back. 

For example, consider his description in a booklet published by the Town of Palmer Lake in 1894 of one local landmark shortly after it was built.

“Estemere House commands one of the most magnificent views in the Rocky Mountains. The lake and both railroad depots lie beyond it, is plainly visible. To the southeast stretch the plains, on which can be seen the village of Monument, and the bewildering scene is lost in the dim distance where the meeting sky and plain unfolds the siren mirage to the vision on the desert waste; to the east are the fertile farms and pine groves of the rich Divide. To the northeast can be seen the pretty pyramidal buttes of Greenland and Larkspur. To the west are the ‘rock-ribbed’ mountains, lofty and sublime. It is a scene which, when once beheld, can never forgotten.”

When legendary scoundrel, Joseph H. Wolfe, crossed his path in Cripple Creek in his administration and management of the Clarendon Hotel, Gard let loose because he felt Wolfe was attracting too much attention by throwing money around the gaming tables and consorting with shady characters.
“This curious hostelry is run by a red-faced, cock-eyed boob who ought to be back in Missouri flats pulling cockle-burrs out of a cornfield,” wrote Gard in the Crusher in the early 1890s. He proved to be on target when later Wolfe’s efforts to organize one of the only bullfights ever held in the United States at the racetrack at Gillette Flats landed him in jail and fleeing from creditors.

Prior to his founding of the Crusher, Gard was already wielding his wit and pen in the Palmer Lake area, founding the Palmer Lake Herald with his brother J.M. Gard, just before incorporation to the town in 1889. On April 2,1889, he was also elected to a two-year term as trustee on Palmer Lake’s first board.

"The USGenWeb Project was established in 1996 by a group of genealogists who shared a desire to create free online resources for genealogical research. Originally beginning with online directories of text-based resources, their vision has grown into a network of over 3000 linked websites, all individually created and maintained by a community of volunteers. Today you may find a variety of unique county and state resources including photos, maps, transcriptions, historical documents, helpful links, and much more." according to its current site.

In July and August of 1996, the work progressed with many volunteers coming forward to assist. The USGenWeb domain was established, and many new state mailing lists were generated. Through collaboration with RootsWeb, server space was found for the files produced as a result of the project. Also, a standardized Query and Surname entry form was established there. A number of state and county pages were put on-line there. Other servers and key personalities involved in the project include Gene Stark at Gendex and the folks at Gensource.

"As more volunteers came forward, some of the original cadre were able to pass the reins of some of their responsibilities on to new enthusiastic helpers, freeing time for them to more fully concentrate on their other GenWeb states and counties. The leadership of the US GenWeb project also changed hands, but the original goal of the project remains unchanged. A USGenWeb Bulletin Board was established, and many new county pages came on-line, especially the hard work of the state coordinators."

On the USGenWeb Project you'll find a well organized effort to place genealogy materials on the Internet. This project is supported by hundreds of volunteers all across the county. The system is organized by states, and counties with each county having a coordinator responsible for maintaining a site of resources which are available for that county. You'll also find archives of genealogy records, also organized by state and county.

The Colorado version, COGenWeb Project is an outgrowth of this effort.

Several papers following, (many of which I have worked with, or descendants, for a time) are described by 2019 El Paso County COGenWeb.

Journalism in El Paso County, Colorado. — This county, being one of the earliest settled in Colorado, has a respectable newspaper record. Even in 1872, "Out West," published by J. E. Liller, had for correspondents men widely known in church, literature and politics, as Rev. Charles Kingsley and Hon. Wm. D. Kelley. "Out West" was a model of style, editorially and typographically; it was devoted to Western interests. In December, 1872, it announced that a local paper had become necessary, and that it would also publish "The Gazette and El Paso County News," beginning early in 1873, in order that "Out West's" pages might entirely be given to Territorial information. It thereafter soon died, but the "Gazette" grew to be a respected force throughout the country. 

In 1874 Judge Price became celebrated all over Colorado for his humorous hoaxes upon Eastern residents in the columns of his "Mountaineer," also issued at Colorado Springs, and an able paper popularly circulated among the people of the county. The pioneer El Paso journal, though printed in Denver, was the short lived "Colorado City Journal," which made its appearance in 1861, under the direction of Benjamin F. Crowell, now a citizen of Colorado Springs. May 1st, 1858, Mr. Crowell came from Boston, a boy of nineteen, in company with A. Z. Sheldon and others. The party had varied experiences in crossing the plains, one of their chief dilemmas being to ascertain each morning before harnessing which was the "nigh" and which the "off" ox. From the days of the El Paso "Journal" till the present, Mr. Crowell has been connected with every important movement, political or otherwise, in El Paso.

Colorado Springs "Gazette" inaugurated the county's record in daily journalism, and ever has been a prominent factor in the building up of this region. It is one of the six papers of the State owning associated press dispatches, prints daily over five thousand words of telegraphic news, and is a four page eight column paper. It has a large job department, fifty men on its pay roll of $600 per week, and is erecting a fine block on a principal avenue. The chief stockowners are B. W. Steele, Hon. W. S. Jackson and Dr. B. F. D. Adams. Mr. Steele has been editor of the " Gazette " for the past several years, and came to Colorado in 1877, from Providence, Rhode Island. He is a graduate of Brown University. Mr. Steele's policy in conducting the "Gazette" has been fearless and judicial. His editorials show a remarkably sympathetic comprehension and prevision of public feeling.

The "Gazette" is about to build a fine new edifice on Pike's Peak avenue, a sharp contrast to its present dilapidated structure of historic fame. The material is to be St. Louis pressed brick with stone trimmings, and basement of stone. Besides the rooms used in the printing and binding departments of the journal, there will be eighteen offices. The building is supplied with fireproof vaults and a crane elevator.

The Colorado Springs "Republic" is the second paper of the county, and was first issued in 1880 (being the regular successor of the "Free Press" and the "Mountaineer,") as a daily evening journal, after as a weekly, and again as a daily under its present direction by Mr. L H. Gowdy. Its interests are mainly local, and together with an excellent job department, it has become a successful property.

EI Paso's growth may well be shown by an enumeration of the papers now published. While the county boasted but ten papers in 1888, in 1890 we find the list swelled to double the number. The El Paso "Register" is the representative paper of the (Palmer) Divide region, and is published at Monument. The Manitou "Journal" is issued four months of the year as a daily, and began its career in 1886. The Colorado City "News," under the able direction of J. Addison Cochran — present postmaster of that city — achieved, two years since, first place among the papers of El Paso's manufacturing center.

Other papers issued in the county are: "Pike's Peak Herald," "Saturday Mail," the "Methodist," the "Lever," and "Deaf Mute Index," at Colorado Springs, — the last two named being school papers, — Colorado City "Chieftain," Colorado City "Iris," Palmer Lake "Herald," Green Mountain Falls "Echo," Fountain "Dispatch," Woodland Park "News," and Crystal Peak "Beacon" (at Florissant).
To the Colorado Springs "Gazette" and "Republic," both of which publish weekly as well as daily edition we are indebted for valuable reports which have freely been used in this sketch," according to COGenWeb.