Saturday, December 2, 2006

Responding to Terror in Lake County War

PennyS left an interesting comment on yesterday’s post, but it shows up on the first post. Penny wrote,
"I found it very interesting to consider what you wrote on 12/1 "...Upper Arkansas Valley during the years of 1874-1875. It was a time of terror" ...because we live in a time of terror now. If it isn't the neighbor's Goth teenager collecting guns or an al Qaeda operative collecting nuclear armaments from South Korea; these are our times! I think about how people handled terror in the past. That inspiration gives us a connection to the real people of history. The pioneers were not so different; it's all in how they handled the threats, the challenges, the fears and opportunities. I enjoy your blog and will continue to read it. Your family history is fascinating, and you write in a way to make it very real for readers."

How thought provoking! When I wrote my post, I was stuck in the past, not even thinking of the implications for today. Yes, we do live in a time of terror, never knowing when someone else’s actions will affect our family, community and world. The level of fear in lower Lake County was high right after the Committee of Safety held their trials. People didn’t know whether their friend, neighbor, or mining partner might threaten them. At least three men were lynched. The County Coroner claimed there were as many as one hundred deaths during the Lake County War, however, only three plus Judge Dyer’s murder can be substantiated. Armed guards roamed the region, questioning citizens as they passed through. The threat had leveled off some before Judge Dyer issued the warrants for arrest. The Committee of Safety blamed Dyer for precipitating his own murder.

The people of Lake County responded to terror in the same ways we do today: many moved away from the threat; some defended themselves and gave their opinions in the newspapers; Judge Dyer and others tried to solve it through the judicial system; Father Dyer set about making changes in the government; and Territorial Governor Routt considered sending the Federal troops into the area after Judge Dyer’s assassination to quell the lawlessness. Judge Dyer was killed the year before Colorado became a state in 1876, so many were concerned about the reputation of the territory. Who would move to Colorado if there was a war in the heart of the state?

1 comment:

Phil Gibbs said...

In 1985 I received a letter from a Dr. F.R. Paquestte who was writing a story about the Lake County War. He asked if I was related to Elijah Gibbs who had fled Lake County to Oregon.

I am not related to Elijah but my grandfather Elemr Gibbs was born 15 days before and 23 miles from the War. He was born in Alpine and his mother, Emma J Gibbs was postmistress. My great grandfather, alfred Orville Gibbs owned the SArah McCormick mine, according to family legend. They left Alpine in 1878.

Does anyone know Dr. Paquette? I cannot find him.