Boynton Family

     George Carr Cripple Creek   

Cripple Creek History
Cripple Creek B and B


George Carr

From the Forgotten Men of Cripple Creek

Written by Leslie and Hazel Doyle Spell

1959

Although I am in my 77th year and my active mining days over, many memories of childhood days in the Mount Pisgah district are vivid. Others have been recalled during my visits with George Carr in his late years in Whittier, California, as well as with my older brother Oakley, and sister Tessie, while not a few have been gleaned from the few old-timers in Long Beach.

While visiting with Mr. Carr he expressed many times the wish that the true story of the first days of this historic mining camp might be written by someone who actually experienced them; that some of the sturdy men who pioneered there could be remembered. This I have tried to do to the best of my ability, not only for Mr. Carr's sake, but for others who have been overlooked in previous histories and stories. So many vital records were destroyed during the fires of Cripple Creek and Anaconda, including those of my father's cherished old leather-bound ledger, that the true story or the actual origin of this Mount Pisgah Gold Excitement has been lost to posterity. Too often the latter named rush has been confused with the fake Mount Pisgah Gold Rush of the 1880s. The two were entirely different eras, with the Gold Excitement of the 1890s developing into the real Cripple Creek Gold Rush.

Our friend George Carr left Cripple Creek somewhere around the latter part of 1893, when Mrs. Carr refused to live in a district where "babies and kittens could not live," as she termed it. Her only son and a baby daughter had not survived the rigorous climate, so when a land rush developed into the Oklahoma Territory, the Carr family moved eastward to Woodward of that state, later moving back to Kentucky, where the two other Carr daughters were born. Mrs. Boatman, the elder, now lives in Whittier, California and the younger, Mrs. Burilla Beard, in San Francisco.

From the tone of Mr. Carr's conversations I honestly think that his disappointment in not having the opportunity of serving as Cripple Creek's first mayor after the election upset when Dr. Whiting replaced him, might have influenced the move also, for he was keenly hurt that his efforts in community service were not recognized.

Mrs. Carr's brother, John Edwards, the man who so carefully landed us at the Carr ranch in 1890 after our snowbound trip from Florissant, married Donna Mullinix, one of the Mullinix sisters. The other sister, Dixie, married and moved to Denver. After his marriage John homesteaded a site on the Hulbert Trail near Phantom Canyon, and moved there with his bride, to engage in the cattle raising business. It was this cabin we purchased in later years with the hope of restoring dad's failing health. The cabin is still standing and is known as one of the landmarks of the district as the "old Spell cabin." John at one time was chief of police for Cripple Creek. As I remember John he was a handsome man and today would be a good subject for western movies or TV.

I can't recall seeing John Lintz after the Blue Bell mine closed down, but he later sold his interest in the Handbury Lintz enterprises in Florissant and moved away.

After the Blue Bell mine failure, Joe Handbury lost interest in the Cripple Creek district and followed the Alaskan gold rush of 1896, but later returned to Colorado. My last memory of him is when I was jailed during the strike of 1904 and he was the jailer of the Teller County jail.

Our taciturn, modest friend Marion C. Lankford, realized enough funds from sale of his Blue Bell Stock to finance the building of a boarding house in Anaconda, which he named the Victor House. This he leased to an elderly couple, with the provision that he would be given a home there for his remaining years, which proved to be a suitable setup for him, as he never married. Lankford had been living with us, but now he had a home of his own, in which he took great pride. I have a vague memory of some kind of civic celebration being given in Cripple Creek district at which time this good old fellow, was given a citation for being "the next to Womack as the first prospector in the district." Details of this event are hazy in my memory but I remember the pleasure Lankford derived in being recognized for his efforts.

Unfortunately the man who rented the house died within a year or two. Then in 1897 or '98 Lankford died, with some of his kin claiming the estate. We purchased the Victor House in 1898, remodeled it and made a very comfortable home for the family. It was large enough in which to entertain and we again could enjoy company, for by that time Oakley and I were old enough to command men's wages, thus affording the family better times. While living there we brothers went to work for the Mary McKinney mine and I remember mother standing in the kitchen door as I came in through the gate from work in the early morning, saying: "My son's first graveyard shift."

Vint Barry of Barry Brothers of our Anaconda days, moved to Cripple Creek, where he married Mrs. O'Brien, a widow with three lovely daughters and a son. One son of this union, Jack, still resides in Cripple Creek and reflects the courteous dispositions of his parents. Another man to be remembered is the eccentric photographer, A. J. Harlan, the wandering camera man of the early days who moved from Colorado Springs to Barry, then later to Victor, but finally returning to Colorado Springs. I think I am safe in saying that the first picture he took in Barry was that of my father on dad's birthday in April of 1892. Harlan, with his bulky camera equipment was always Johnny-on-the-spot when events occurred. His thousands of pictures have been of historic value in portraying the gold rush of the early days. Many of these photographs are reproduced in this book.

A question often asked is why men leave the comforts of home; the association of loved ones, to journey into union habited country; endure hardships, heat, cold, hunger, bodily harm, even death, that they may exercise their privilege of prospecting for gold. My only answer is that the lure of that precious yellow metal is all too tempting for those who have the prospecting fever in their makeup. Nowadays the lure of discovery of the more strategic metals takes many men afield, as did the search for gold in the old days.

As I turn back the pages of life to my first experience in a gold rush camp and from there on to just a few years back, I read of some of the unfortunate experiences and disappointments or gold-pursuing souls; then on another page the success side of the story. Such as been my story-one of success and failure.

Ever since man has been on earth his one desire has been to be free; to possess a home of his own; to worship as he wishes; and by his ambition and efforts build up something concrete for himself and loved ones. This is the answer for the men of faith who rushed into the Mount Pisgah Gold Excitement district. The Cripple Creek district, as it is now known, holds one of the great potentialities. Fortunes have been made, and squandered, but with our present knowledge of geology and the splendid recovery methods of the new mill erected in the Cripple Creek district, many more may be realized. Mother Nature may again open up her treasure troves to countless others and our beauteous Mount Pisgah witness another gold excitement.

Many children before whom I have talked and asked to give accounts of past history, ask: "Did you ever have a gold mine?" To them I reply: "No, I have never had a really honest paying mine in gold, but I found a gold mine of friends throughout the years." The coveted yellow metal may be precious, but what is more precious than friendship?

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