Saturday, March 10, 2007
Look At It Now, Will Ya Kit!
I have mentioned in previous posts that the high plains just to the east of the Rocky Mountains have a rich history all their own. The Rocky Mountains are glamorous and have an incredible history but if you read about western history you will discover that a lot of the famous figures of western history actually lived on the high plains and not in the mountains. The mountains were "the office". Bent, St. Vrain, Vasquez, Beckwourth, Tobin, Tabor, Sublette, Autobees, Wooten are names associated with the Rocky Mountains. They trapped, traded, fought Indians, hunted, dug gold, silver and lead in the Rocky Mountains but all of them had more permanent homes in settlements along the high plains. Taos, Boggsville, Bent's Fort, Pueblo Ft. Lyons, Denver are just a few of the "homes" these men returned to after a hard summer "at the office".
One of the biggest names in western folk lore is Christopher "Kit" Carson. For 30 years Kit created a legend for himself throughout the west. In 1867 Kit was mustered out of the army and took up residence in the small town of Boggsville with his wife and children. Boggsville is located just a mile or two south of the present day town of La Junta, Colorado. Retirement however, was just not to be for Kit, in spite of his declining health. The government and friends prevailed on him to accompany a band of Ute Indians led by Chief Ouray to Washington for treaty negotiations in 1868. Kit agreed and accompanied the Indians along with a party of distinguished white men on the trip which included stops in Omaha, Chicago, Boston and New York. The journey took it's toll on Kit's already fragile health. The picture at the right was taken while he was in Washington D.C.
Arriving back in Denver in late March, Kit was so weakened that he had to spend 3 days resting up before he tried to make it back to his family in Boggsville. An old friend D.C. Oaks, accompanied him on the journey. Accompanied is probably not the word to use. D.C. took Kit because he was so weak he had to ride/lie in a wagon for most of the trip. Kit made it home somewhere around April 5, 1868.
His family was glad he was back, especially his wife Josefa who was about to give birth to another child. Tragically, Josefa died from complications of childbirth leaving Kit a widower with 7 children.
Knowing he was near to death Kit turned his children and estate over to the Boggs family and on May 23, 1868 he died in the military hospital at Ft. Lyons, Colorado.
So where am I going with this???
The picture at the top of the page was taken from a promontory about 25 miles south of downtown Denver. It was very close to the spot that this picture was taken from, that Kit and D.C. Oaks built one of the last campfires that Kit was to see in his life. This was about one days travel from Denver with a wagon in those days and Kit and D.C. made camp here on their way to Boggsville. A large granite monument noted this fact until a few years ago, when the monument "disappeared".
What do you suppose Kit Carson would say if he were able to see what Denver looked like today?
Read more here.
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