Friday, July 13, 2007

Fairplay Trip

I drove up to Fairplay Wednesday. The wildflowers on Wilkerson pass were gorgeous! First stop, the Park County Library, which is in the old courthouse. The Park County Local History Archives is in a tiny room in the basement. I met Jane, the archivist, who pulled out folders and books for me to look at. From Jane, I learned that many of the Park County court records are in the State Archives. I also met Linda, the historic preservation coordinator. Jane and Linda suggested I call Jerry, a Fairplay history buff.

Yesterday I called Jerry, who was a wealth of information. Jerry even knew about Wilburn Christison! We had a great conversation. And now I have an expert I can call and verify facts about Fairplay.

After I visited the archives, I went to the County Clerk's office. Although I've done quite a bit of research into mining records and land records, Wilburn's paper trail in Fairplay is rather confusing to me. Partly because I'm not sure what are Wilburn's personal transactions and what are transactions where he is representing someone as their attorney. After spending an hour looking at deeds and not really understanding what they meant, I gave up and went home completely drained and wiped out.

That night I called Joy, a friend who works in the Elbert County courthouse, and asked a few questions. Joy patiently answered my questions and I finally blurted out, "Joy, I need you to go to Fairplay with me so I know what I'm looking at." And she agreed! What a trooper! She spends her working days looking at deeds and is willling to spend her day off in another courthouse investigating deeds. This will be a tremendous help.

This trip to Fairplay is a reminder that I'm not in this alone. So many times I ferret out information on my own, the independent westerner. But I'm not alone. Each piece of information I find is the result of someone else's work. And I discern the best understanding of the information when I'm able to talk to someone who has expert knowlege on the subject. I so appreciate the people who have told me I can call them or write them with questions. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fairplay Courthouse

Wilburn and Elizabeth Jane Christison moved to Fairplay in 1873. He was elected Park County probate judge in the October elections. He also practiced law. This courthouse was built in 1874, with the courtroom in the second story.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fairplay Research

This past week I read Silver Lies by Ann Parker. This fictional book is set in Leadville during the winter of 1879-1880; the height of the Leadville silver boom. Great murder-mystery! While reading this book, I was also reading through the 1879 and 1880 Fairplay Flume newspapers on Colorado Historic Newspapers. I realized the search function wasn't picking up all of the references to Wilburn Christison, so I started reading each paper. I am so glad I did!

I have a much more complete picture of Wilburn now. He had an impressive law practice and involved in many civic matters-- president of the school board, town clerk, Park County's attorney, chairman of the Park County democratic party, etc. It was interesting to think about Wilburn living in Fairplay while reading Silver Lies. While Fairplay never boomed like Leadville did, the silver mining made Fairplay a bustling town in 1880-1881.