In Spring of 2016 the History Museums: Exhibits and Education class at CU Denver
took on creating three Auraria history projects. The first was to redo the exhibit hanging in the St. Cajetan's Church. The second was podcasts for historical walks around the campus. This online series of exhibits is part three of the class projects. We are giving you an overview through images and words of the history of both the original town and the campus. We hope you enjoy our work.
Dr. Rebecca A. Hunt
By Elenie Louvaris
One of the earliest depictions of Auraria showing the Cherry Creek dividing prospectors looking for gold and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians who used the region as a camp site. Courtesy of Jerome Smiley, History of Denver, Rebecca Hunt Collection
Native American's and The Greater Denver Area
While today, the three main tribes associated with the greater Denver area are the Cheyennes, Arapahoes and the Utes, historically the land was inhabited by a much greater variety of native peoples. According to Sarah M. Nelson, in Denver: An Archeological History, pinpointing exactly who was in the greater Denver area is particularly difficult due to the transitory nature of the native groups in the region and a generally sparse archaeological record. Another factor to take into consideration is that as Europeans settled farther west, so did existing native groups.
Group of Arapaho men with Chief Goes-in-Lodge are staged during an early Tim McCoy film around the 1920s.
As Europeans settled in new territories, they displaced existing native tribes forcing them to move farther westward. These Natives then displaced existing native tribes. Essentially, the westward settlement of Europeans caused a chain reaction in the displacement of indigenous native tribes.
Group of Arapaho men pose with white settlers.
Son, of Little Raven Chief of the Southern Arapahoes, poses for a photograph in the 1880s.
At times Native peoples and Euro-Americans coexisted peacefully. Settlers often would marry Indian or Metis women creating mixed nation families. For example, William Rowland, an Auraria resident, married a Southern Cheyenne woman named Sis Frog.
Additionally, American settlement on Native lands in the west sometimes led to hostility. This was furthered by institutions such as the Rocky Mountain News, which called Indians savages and uncivilized.
Red Pipe, an Arapaho warrior, wearing traditional clothing in the late 1800s.
Auraria--originally a camp frequented by Arapaho Indians---was settled by prospectors where the Cherry Creek and South Platte meet. Prospectors and town builders, such as the Russell brothers, settled in Auraria in 1858 after finding seven ounces of gold in the South Platte. The discovery of gold led to the establishment of Auraria Town Company (ATC). Town founders were given parcels of land by ATC to form the town and later more land was donated to establish churches, sawmills, printing shops, and hotels.
Modern image of Smedley house restoration.
Depiction of 1860 Auraria, showing the new booming settlement of log cabins, tents and houses.
The original Rocky Mountain News and Uncle Dick Wootton’s rowdy "Western Saloon" once shared a building along Ferry Street, known today as 11th Street (if it continued through campus). It was a dangerous time to work for the Rocky Mountain News as customers below would shoot their pistols into the ceiling, just nearly missing the staff.
Samuel Hawken and his brother Jacob were famous gunsmiths in St. Louis, Missouri during the first half of the nineteenth century. They developed the Hawken Plains Rifle in the 1820s which became very popular with frontiersmen for its power and accuracy. After Jacob died, Samuel, at age 67, moved from St. Louis to Auraria and opened a new shop right next door to the Pollack building at what is now 11th and Market. Hawken was immensely successful in Auraria since his shop was the only place to buy Hawken Rifles. He returned home to Missouri in in the mid-1870s and died in 1884. The site of his shop is in the Auraria Athletic Field and would be very close to where the Pollack building once stood, about one block North from where Eleventh Street now terminates.
The Hawken Rifle, also known as the Buffalo Gun, was a very popular frontier weapon used by trappers and fur traders. It was lauded for its accuracy and "knock down" power while still being light enough to carry on long trips. This is the rifle that the Hawkens brothers developed, produced, and sold in their St. Louis gunsmith shop.
The Irish in Auraria
The few Irish immigrants who settled in early Auraria were miners drawn to the area by the promise of gold and riches. As Auraria expanded(and eventually became co-opted by Denver) many Irish men worked as common laborers, while women worked as domestics, seamstresses or laundresses. Many Irish immigrants owned and operated taverns as well. Even though the Irish only represented three percent of the cities population, they operated ten percent of the city’s taverns. As the nineteenth century closed, the Irish population in Denver soared, and many were able to escape their menial jobs of the past. They became police officers, firefighters, business owners and politicians. Eventually the Irish left the working-class Auraria neighborhood and moved to middle-class sections of the city, but they left their permanent mark on the neighborhood.
1045-47 Ninth Street was built in 1890 by William F. Shulz, a German immigrant and bookkeeper for the Tivoli Brewing Company. Prominent Irish immigrant, Eugene Madden once lived at 1047 Ninth Street. Madden was a Denver City councilman, proprietor of Madden’s Dry Goods, and owner of a popular Auraria saloon. Image courtesy of Aimee Wismar
Photo courtesy Denver Public Library
Nine year old John Mullen arrived in America from Ireland with his family in 1856. They settled in New York where John learned the trade of miller. At age nineteen, John went west to Kansas to work. In 1871 he moved on to Denver, Colorado. He was an experienced miller, but found it hard to obtain a job in the milling industry in Denver. He eventually went to work for O. W Shackleton and Charles Davis at their West Denver Flour Mill. As a progressive businessman
Mullen built the Colorado Milling and Elevator Company and bought the Excelsior Mill from John W. Smith.
1960s Image Unknown Source
Photo Courtesy Rebecca Hunt
In 1925, the basement of the church was finished, but funds had run out. Because Catherine Mullen was an avid
supporter of the new church, J. K. “felt compelled to provide support to the parish in her memory" when she died that year. He donated more than $65,000 to the church to help cover the remaining building costs.
St. Cajetan’s Catholic Church was completed in 1926.
The CU Denver 4244/5244 - History Museums, Exhibits and Education class took on the task of digitally telling Auraria's history. CU Denver Professor:
Rebecca A. Hunt, Associate Professor C/T
CU Denver students: