Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The 1861 Colorado Territorial Election

Elizabeth Jane and Wilburn Christison

The Territory of Colorado was created on February 28, 1861 when President Buchanan signed the Colorado Organic Act -- almost three weeks after the Confederate States of America were formed with Jefferson Davis as president. President Lincoln appointed William Gilpin as the governor of the new Colorado Territory on March 21. Governor Gilpin was told by officials in Washington to do all he could to save Colorado for the Union, so he set out to organize a strong, territorial government. The first Territorial election was held Monday, August 19, 1861.

This week I discovered a
list of voters in the 1861 Territorial Election on the Denver Public Library website and a Wm. Christison is listed among the Lost Canon [sic] Precinct voters. Lost Canyon is in the same vicinity as Cash Creek.

Wilburn's obituary says he located in Cash Creek in 1861, but this is the first documentation I've found that proves it. The list of voters is on microfilm at the
Colorado State Archives and I'm anxious to look at it. There is a note that there are numerous misspellings in the original list.

Wilburn was a zealous Southern Democrat, so I'm certain he didn't vote for the the man who won the congressional seat - Republican Hiram P. Bennett.

Other Chaffee County pioneers I recognize on the list are John Burnett, F.W. Sprague (probably Galatia), and George Bertchy. 136 men voted in the Lost Canon precinct.

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