Wilson Edward Sisty (1826-1889) & Ann Simpson (abt 1831-1878)

Wilson Edward Sisty (1826-1889)
Ann Simpson (abt 1831-1878)

John Sisty (Cisti) Home Page Previous Generation

Wilson Edward4 Sisty (William,3 John,2 John1)

Wilson E. Sisty was born on the 26th of September 1825 in Berwick, Columbia County, Pennsylvania. He was the ninth child of ten children and the third son of four sons of Mary Roth and William Sisty.

At age of 10 Wilson became a “printer’s devil” at the Wilkes Barre Advocate newspaper. His brother, Amos, was the editor and proprietor of the paper. A printer’s devil was an apprentice in a printing establishment who performed a number of tasks, such as mixing tubs of ink and fetching type.

Wilson enrolled in the military on the 1st of December 1846 in Wilkes Barre under Captain Edmund L. Dana. He was mustered into service on the 16th of December under Lieutenant H. B. Fields in Pittsburg. He served as a private in Company I, under Captain Edmund L. Dana, in the 1st Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers commanded by Colonel Frank M. Wynkoop.

From Pittsburg his Regiment went down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers by steamboat to the Jackson battleground near New Orleans. They went onboard the ship “Russel Glover” to Labos Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, where they remained during February 1847. They went to Sacrificios, near the City of Veracruz, landing on the 9th of March 1847. They remained there during and took part in the Seige of Veracruz. Veracruz surrendered on the 29th of March 1847. Wilson’s regiment took part in the battle of Cerrogordo on the 17th and 18th of April 1847.

Wilson was discharged on the 29th of October 1847 at Perote, Mexico –

Roll of officers and men of Company "I," First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who served in the war with Mexico: --
60. Wilson E. Sisty, discharged at Perote.

Here is the history of the land warrant Wilson received for serving in the Mexican War. On the 18th of December 1847 Wilson E. Sisty received a bounty land warrant for 160 acres for his service in the Mexican War under the Act of Congress dated the 11th of February 1847. On the 9th of September 1848 Wilson sold his land warrant to Daniel Bertsch. On the 28th of July 1849 Daniel sold the warrant to Nathan Cortright. Nathan tries to “locate” the land in Illinois. There is a foul-up and he ends up locating the land on a tract that has already been located by someone else. The dispute is not resolved for several years and Nathan eventually gets the warrant back. On the 21st of August 1889, forty years later, Nathan sold the warrant to James Kiefer. On the 6th of September 1889 James sold the warrant to Wm. J. Johnson. On the 13th of September 1889 William sold the warrant to Ward Everett. On the 23rd of September 1889 Ward finally locates the land in Monterey County, California. He builds a house on the property and farms the land.

On the 7th of March 1849 Ann Simpson and Wilson E. Sisty were married in Conyngham Presbyterian Church in Sugarloaf Township, Luzerne County. The Reverend John Johnson performed the ceremony. The couple was living in Summit Hill, Carbon County. Ann Simpson was born in 1831 in Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of John and Margaret Simpson.

According to The Encyclopedia of the New West

He returned to Hazleton after his discharge at the conclusion of the war in 1845. Here he entered the livery business a second time and continued till 1851.

In April 1850 Edward B. Sisty was born to Ann and Wilson Sisty.

Also from The Encyclopedia of the New West -

He opened a hotel in Summit Hill in 1851. In 1856 he took charge of large coal works; but resigned in February 1859.

During their time in Summit Hill, Ann and Wilson Sisty had a little girl named Ella. She did not appear in subsequent censuses or documents so it assumed that she died young.

In August 1850 Wilson and Ann Sisty and their son Edward B. are living in Hazle, Luzerne County. Wilson is 23, Ann is 19 and Edward is one month old. They are living in a hotel and Wilson was a livery stable keep. They were all born in Pennsylvania.

The following is from the J.S. Randall Scrap Book in the possession of the Colorado Historical Society -

In 1859 when the Pikes' Peak gold excitement broke out he was seized with the gold fever and started for the new Eldorado. Arriving at Council Bluffs, Iowa, he fitted out an ox team and, after a journey of several months, reached Denver early in May. About that time the wonderful discoveries of Green Russell and Gregory, at Central, were attracting general attention.

The following is from a magazine article printed in the Colorado Outdoors Magazine called "Colorado’s First Commissioner – Wilson E. Sisty" in the November/December 1962 issue –

With a party of eight men, he went to the present location of Blackhawk, where it is said, “he was ruined.” Russell’s Gulch, his next stop, proved no better. Moving into Clear Creek valley, Sisty organized Downieville before returning to Denver in the fall of 1859 to be appointed Denver’s first deputy sheriff.

The Annals of Clear Creek County, Colorado includes the following –

Downieville District was organized July 20, 1859, by Vol. Sam McLeon, president, Edward James, recorder, and Wilson E. Sisty and J. Goldsberry.

Accordingly Lyle W. Dorsett in his book The Queen City: A History of Denver he says –

In an attempt to bring order to the town, a number of businessmen formed a vigilance committee in summer 1859. Only modestly successful, the committee disbanded in December, and WE Sisty, a Mexican War veteran, was elected the town’s first marshal. The new marshal lasted only five months when he resigned out of frustration.

In December 1859 The People’s Ticket ran a slate of candidates for election - William Davidson for Mayor, C. A. Lawrence for Recorder, W. E. Sisty for Marshall, Amos Steck for Treasurer, Charles C. Post for Clerk, D. C. Collier for Attorney, Jeremiah Lewis for Assessor and H. M. Fosick for Engineer. The election was held on the 19th of December and from the People’s Ticket, Davidson, Steck, Post, Lewis and Fosdick all lost while Lawrence, Sisty and Collier won. All seats were won by more than 100 votes except for the position of Marshall. Of the 573 votes for Marshall 290 votes were cast for Sisty and 283 were cast for W. J. Welch – a majority of only 7 votes.

Denver City Marshall badge – worn 1859 – 1874. Copyright 2009 Denver Police Law Enforcement Museum, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

From the "Denver Police Department Protective Association Newsletter" of September/October 2007 –

On December 19th, 1859, the first city elections were held. There were 573 votes cast for city offices, and W.E. Sisty won the election as our first City Marshal by 7 votes. He stayed around until May 1860, when he returned to mining in Idaho Springs.

An interesting letter from Mr. Horace Greeley, dated June 1859, described Denver characters as: ‘…soured in temper, always armed, bristling at the word, ready with the rifle, revolver, or bowie knife…I apprehend that there have been more brawls, more fights, more pistol shots in this log city that (sic) in any community of no greater numbers on earth!’

1860 in Denver was a ruthless period. One story from The History of Colorado says –
On the 13th of March, Moses Young of Leavenworth, deliberately killed his friend, William West, with a shot gun. He was arrested by Deputy Sheriff William (sic) E. Sisty, convicted and hanged the next day by the vigilantes.

Interesting letters appeared in the "Rocky Mountain News Weekly" on March 14, 1860. I wonder what the issue was. –

Denver City, March 14th.

Mr. Editor – I deem it but just to an honorable man and a faithful public officer, that an erroneous impression that has gone abroad, should be corrected. I refer to the reports in circulation concerning the action of W. E. Sisty, Deputy Sheriff, in the late homicide of William West.

At the moment the fatal shot was fired Mr. Sisty and myself were talking together on the platform in front of the office of William Clancy – neither of us heard the shot; but immediately saw persons running to and fro. We left the platform and approached the bridge and whilst standing in the street several persons came up, apparently walking at leisure. I asked what was the matter and one of them said, “nothing – a little fuss only.” Presently another said “A man had been killed, and the murderer was going up the hill,” and told Sisty to “arrest him.” I said “it was a mistake, for I had heard no gun fired,” and said, “let’s see.” Mr. Sisty advanced not more than five or ten steps with me toward the bridge, when he turned, saying, “I must arrest the man” – I, still supposing it a mistake, passed over Cherry Creek.
                                                Respectfully, John C. Moore.

At the time I met Mr. Sisty in front of Mr. Clancy’s office, I remarked to him that “Young had killed West, and, as an officer, he ought to arrest him.” He – Sisty – answered that he would. I pointed out Young to him. Under the excitement, I was firmly of the opinion that Mr. Sisty passed over the bridge to see West before trying to arrest Young, and so stated to several persons. But Mr. Moore and Dr. Smith, who were with Mr. Sisty and myself, tell me that Mr. Sisty went no farther than the bridge, then turned back and pursued Young. – Mr. Moore also tells me that he remarked to Mr. Sisty that he “ought not to be too hasty, but look into the matter before making the arrest”; Consequently the moment’s delay was caused, in a manner, by his suggestion.
                                                Wm. M. Pierson.

It seems to me that the above story from the History of Colorado was a bit hyperbolic. According to a newspaper article in the March 21, 1860 issue of the "Rocky Mountain News Weekly," William West was shot and killed on March 13, there was a trial with an impannelled (sic) jury and witness statements were taken on March 14 and Moses Young was hung on the spot of William West’s death on the afternoon of March 15.

He had the comfort of a minister, Rev. J. H. Kehler, and apparently joined in fervent prayer, and the support of his attorney, T. J. Bayaud, Esq. The Committee responsible to take charge of Mr. Moses Young issued a statement –

We took charge of Mr. Young on the evening of the 13th inst., and since that time he has uniformly conducted himself in a courteous manner toward all with whom he had any associations. He has at all times been quiet and gentlemanly in deportment, and has willingly complied with any and all demands.

Resolved, That to the friends of Mr. Young we extend our sincere sympathies, and regret the unavoidable duty that has devolved upon us as the aforesaid Committee.
                                                Signed, W. E. Sisty (among 32 others)

Moses Young’s statement that was read to the crowd –
Knowing that my earthly career is about to close, I would ask the forebearance of the world, and it’s kind judgment toward my memory. I acknowledge that the sentence was inevitable, and the trial fair. Hoping to be forgiven, I forgive all mankind, and die hating no man.

I beg the love and sympathy of my relatives and friends, and have an abiding faith, and trust that I will meet my dear mother and father beyond the grave.
                                                Moses Young

Earliest artist’s rendering of Idaho Springs - Pen and ink drawing circa 1860. Copyright © 2006 Historical Society of Idaho Springs. All Rights Reserved.
“DENVER! DENVER! DENVER!” the cry rang out as the towns of Auraria and St. Charles were combined by resolution of the Ratification Meeting of our Reunion. On the night of Thursday, April 5, 1860 under a moonlit sky on the Larimer street bridge the resolution that reads in part That we hereby ratify and confirm the acts of our fellow citizens on the west side of Cherry Creek, in adopting the name of DENVER for the towns at the mouth of Cherry creek, and that from this time henceforth, the said towns united in one, shall be known as DENVER was unanimously passed. Speeches were made by General William Larimer, Judge Bennet, R. B. Nay and Hon. J. A. Gray while the crowd stood by including President Judge N. G. Wyatt, Secretary A. Jacobs and Vice Presidents W. P. Steinberger and W. E. Sisty.

The following was from the "Colorado Outdoors Magazine" -

In May 1860 Wilson went to Idaho Springs and helped organize the town. He bought a claim there and a year later erected a stamp mill. He remained there until 1862.

Wilson was the first recorder for the Idaho Mining District [Colorado], organized in July 1860. He also helped lay out the townsite of Idaho Springs in 1860. Sisty’s was the original name of the town of Brookvale.

This is from the Annals of Clear Creek County, Colorado

Idaho District was organized July 6, 1860, with W.E. Sisty as President, and Walter I Welch as Recorder.

There was a temporary organization of Montana District on July 24, 1860, by Geo. F. Griffith, Wilson E. Sisty, L.W. Bliss, R. Harder and others.

The "Rocky Mountain News Weekly" published the following report on the 6th of June 1860 –

Another Lead – We learn from Mr. Sisty that a very rich quartz lead was found on Saturday last between Fall river and the upper fork of Clear creek, some fifteen miles south-west of Mountain City. Mr. S. has shown us a piece of quartz taken from it, which is doubtless very rich. This is the first step toward opening up of a new district of quartz mines.

We think we have found Wilson Sisty in the 1860 US Census. He is located in the census for Denver, the county of Arapahoe, in the Kansas Territory. The census was taken on the 24th day of August 1860. He is listed as Wm Sisty, thirty years old, a rancher, born in Maryland. Living with him is Zadock Barney, twenty-eight years old, a trader born in Pennsylvania. Despite the differences in name, age and place of birth we think this is Wilson. Ann and Edward joined Wilson in Colorado in 1860 but apparently after this census was taken in August. Ann is listed among the Colorado "Pioneers of 1860."

From the Annals of Clear Creek County, Colorado

Cascade District was organized Oct. 9, 1860, by J. Paul Garvin, W.L. Campbell, Fox Diefendorf and W.E. Sisty. W.L. Campbell was Recorder. The first lode recorded was the Cascade by W.E. Sisty.

At a meeting held Nov. 29, 1860, Shirt-Tail and Northern districts were annexed to Idaho District. At the same meeting, upon Motion of W.E. Sisty, a meeting was called for Saturday, Dec. 9, to take measures for the location of a court house on Clear Creek.

Wilson was involved in organizing at least five towns – Downieville, Idaho, Montana, Cascade and Sisty’s (Brookvale).

The "Rocky Mountain News" published the following report on the 15th of February 1861 –

I write this from the frontier mining settlement on Clear Creek, closely embosomed in the spurs of the Snowy Range, where the mountain streams come leaping down from their rugged fastnesses. …

The districts are about three miles in length, extending up to the last main fork of the creek. W. E. Sisty is the recorder of Downieville district, and the popular actor, A. L. Gooding, is the recorder of Montana.

Wilson E. Sisty
The Colorado Central Railroad wanted to find a route through the mountains to Salt Lake City and the west. So in July 1861 Edward L. Berthoud, a civil engineer of Golden, and the famous scout Jim Bridger, and W. E. Sisty searched for and found the best route into Middle Park. Berthoud’s findings were that the pass was suitable as a wagon road, but not as a railroad. The pass has steep grades on either side (6.3%), along with winding switchbacks and many tight spots. Berthoud Pass straddles the Continental Divide and sits in two Colorado counties—Clear Creek to the south (generally to the east) and Grand to the north (generally to the west).

According to Stanley Vestal in his biography Jim Bridger, Mountain Man: A Biography

In the summer of ’61 he acted as a guide for an engineer, Captain E. L. Berthoud. Berthoud reports that “when Bridger was consulted as to facts, he was truth itself, but when he wished to tell stories, he was most skillful.” Berthoud was in the service of Russell and Holladay of the Overland Stage Company, who were seeking a more direct route from Denver to Salt Lake City. Bridger led him through Berthoud’s Pass to Provo, Utah, down the west slope to White River, Green River, and up the basin of the Duchesne River. This was a much shorter route than the old one. Today the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean and Victory highways follow much the same route.
View from the Top of Berthoud Pass, Colorado, Mathew Trump, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berthoud_Pass

With his background in railroads, Governor John Evans became interested in the surveying done by Captain Edward L. Berthoud to develop a railroad/wagon route from Denver to Salt Lake City. To facilitate the creation of Colorado's first railroad the Territorial Legislature incorporated the Colorado and Pacific Wagon, Telegraph and Railroad Company to lure investors in 1861 with funding of $100,000.

In September 1861 Henry J. Sisty was born to Ann and Wilson Sisty.

In 1862 Wilson moved to Empire City where he mined.

On the 15th of August 1862 the Council and House of Representatives of the Colorado Territory enacted legislation authorizing the Grass Valley Hydraulic and Mining Company. Wilson E. Sisty was among the Board of Directors of this Company. The Company was to build a ditch along the side of the mountain, on the east side of Soda Creek, in Clear Creek County, … for the purpose of washing down said hill with hydraulic power.

The "Weekly Commonwealth" published the following on the 17th of September 1863 –

- We learn from Mr. W.E. Sisty, of Clear Creek, that Mr. J.S. Jones, on the 10th Legion Lode, near Empire, has just got through the cap for certain, and has a three foot crevice of rich pyrites.

- Mr. Sisty informs us that the quartz from the Silver Mountain from which by mills, they could only get $55 to the cord, when burnt by the Friesburg pan, yielded $292.

Fulton Gold & Silver Mining company Stock Certificate
From the Encyclopedia of the New West
In 1863-4 he made large sales of mining property in New York. In 1864 he went on business to Virginia City, Montana, and returned to New York.

In 1865 he returned to Colorado, having organized the Fulton Gold and Silver Mining Company, and acted as its superintendent for nearly two years.

On the 12th of August 1865 the Colorado Constitutional Convention adopted the Constitution. On the 5th of September it was ratified by a majority of 155 of the qualified voters. Wilson E. Sisty represented Clear Creek County at the Convention. This Constitution was turned down by the voters.

Wilson E. Sisty was registered to vote as follows -

SISTY, W. E.Idaho Springs Precinct - Sep. 1865
SISTY, W. E.Idaho Springs Precinct - Nov. 1865

In 1866 Wilson was assessed for IRS Income Taxes. He was living in the town of Idaho. He was assessed $58.90 for his yearly income, $3 for his carriage and $4 for his two gold watches for a total tax assessment of $65.90.

The "Rocky Mountain News" Weekly published the following report on the 10th of January 1866 –

From Idaho, Clear Creek.- Our beautiful and accomplished friend from Clear Creek, Hon. W. E. Sisty, in town for a few days recreation, looking for all the world as happy and lovely as he ever did in the palmy days of ’59. Mr. Sisty is superintendent of the Fulton Co., of Mauch Chunk, Pa., and is working the old Crystal Lode in Virginia Canon, about one mile from Idaho. He brings some specimens from the lode to send to his company, which are the richest in silver and gold of any we have seen, containing pure silver, ‘in mass and in position,’ these specimens are taken from the vein about 75 feet from the surface, where it is about five feet in width. He employs twenty men about the mine, and is getting out a large amount of the ore for operation in the Spring.

The “Daily Central City Register” of Central City, CO published the following on August 25, 1868 -

Mr. Wm. [sic] Sisty, of Idaho, a few days since, handed us a specimen of the tin ore, from the vicinity of Breckenridge, which has caused so much excitement there, of late. It looks a very little like the oxyd of tin, but on examination we find it to be an iron garnet, very common, (associated with epidote and calcspar), in nearly every district in the territory. There is no tin in it, and its occurrence is no indication of the presence of tin in the vicinity. To one accustomed to handling tin ore, or at all acquainted with it, the specific gravity of this specimen would have condemned it. Oxyd of tin (Cassiterite) is the only ore of tin that in the least resembles this specimen, and that is a very heavy mineral, its weight being six and a half to seven times that of water, (the unit by which all minerals are weighed), while the garnet is only three to four and a third times, - very nearly - or to be accurate, the specific gravity of oxyd of tin is 6.3 to 7.1, and that of the garnet, 3.1 to 4.3. The color of oxyd of tin is usually brown or black, but it is sometimes red, gray, white or yellow. The variety known as wood tin, is formed of concentric layers, like the fortification agate, with the difference that the layers are of a fibrous structure, while those of the garnet are solid, with a vitreous lustre. Toad’s eye tin is the same ore on a small scale. Stream tin is the alluvial debris from tin mines, made up of the above varieties, mostly in fragments, and is separated from the earth and rocks by washing, the same as our gulch miners separate the gold from the gravel and dirt.

Sulphuret of tin, or tin pyrites, is a very rare mineral, and has only been found in workable quantity in one mine, that of Huel Rock, Cornwall, where there is a considerable vein, mixed with iron and copper pyrites, zinc blende and galena. Its color is usually iron gray, but is sometimes yellowish, from the presence of copper, sometimes has a bluish color and even black. Also of a bronze yellow color and appearance, hence is sometimes called bell-metal ore.

Wilson was into businesses other than mining while in Idaho Springs. The "Rocky Mountain News" published the following on the 17th of September 1868 –

No one goes to Idaho without taking a bath in the Soda Springs. Perhaps some little description of the facilities afforded for bathing may be of interest to the reader who has not been at the springs this season. The “Mammoth bath” is owned by Messrs. Geo. T. Clark, W. E. Sisty, Fox Deifendorf and others, and is now under the charge of Dr. W. M. Laffan. The main building is 50x70, and contains the swimming bath, 30x60. There are well furnished dressing rooms for ladies and gentlemen. The other building is 14x26 and contains two tub baths and a double shower bath.

Next season the company propose (sic) to erect a new building of the same size as their large one, for ladies only, and will fit it up in a manner hitherto unsurpassed for comfort and elegance. When this is done they can furnish conveniences for bathing which have never before been enjoyed at the springs.

Dr. Laffan informs us that over 2,500 baths have been take (sic) at this establishment this summer.

In March of 1869 W. E. Sisty from Clear Creek was elected to the Board of Directors of the Colorado Agricultural Society at their annual meeting in Denver.

In 1870 Wilson is living in Idaho Springs, Clear Creek County. He is living with his wife, Ann, and their sons, Edward and Henry. Wilson is forty-three, Ann is forty, Edward is twenty and Henry is nine years old. Wilson is a miner, Ann is keeping house, Edward is a laborer and Henry is “at home." Wilson, Ann and Edward were born in Pennsylvania and Henry was born in Colorado. Wilson’s mother and Ann’s father and mother were of foreign birth.

The "Rocky Mountain Directory and Colorado Gazetteer" for 1871 in the Idaho Springs Directory lists Sisty E. B., ranchman and Sisty W. E., ranchman.

On the 17th of May 1873 the Treasurer’s Office of the County of Clear Creek announced that lands would be sold for the non-payment of taxes for the year 1872. Among the lands to be sold included a house, barn and improvements on a ranch belonging to Wm. E. Sisty in Bear Creek valued at $100 and improvements on a ranch belonging to E. B. Sisty in Bear Creek valued at $500.

A Presidential Visit - President U.S. Grant posed for a photograph in front of the Beebe House Hotel on his tour of the West in 1873. Today, the Elks Lodge #607 is at this location. Copyright © 2006 Historical Society of Idaho Springs. All Rights Reserved.

On the 20th of March 1874 Ella Bebee filed a Bill of Complaint in the Probate Court of the County of Clear Clear before the Honorable Frank A. Pope against Wilson E. Sisty. The dispute was over ownership of lots numbered 6 and 7 in Block 13 on Colorado street in Idaho Springs. Each lot is twenty-two feet wide and one hundred and twenty feet deep.

Wilson Sisty contends that he hired John Silvertooth to erect the fence in front of lot 6 in June or July of 1867. He states that there was a house on lot 8 that Ella Bebee was moving to the hotel to be used for sleeping purposes. First the house was moved out to the road. Then on midnight on Sunday night, June 7 1868, a group of people tore down the fence and put the house half on lot 6 and half on lot 7. The midnight conspirators were wearing disguises. The women were wearing men’s clothing. Ella Bebee was wearing pantaloons. They were drinking alcohol. After they replaced the house they rebuilt the fence and finished the job by 5 in the morning.

Ella Bebee contends that William H. Russell hired Mr. Silvertooth to erect the fence. Subsequently Mr. Russell instructed Dr. Garvin to deed lots 6 and 7 to Mrs. Bebee. She states that she built “a good and substantial fence constructed of boards and posts” and filed with the Clear Creek County Colorado a certificate of preemption on May 15, 1868..

Judge Pope found for Ella Bebee and Wilson Sisty posted a $200 bond and appealed the case to the Colorado Supreme Court.

On the 7th of October, 1875 Edward B. Sisty married Luella Leshner in Jefferson County.

In 1876 the Colorado Supreme Court decided the case between Wilson E. Sisty and Ella Bebee. The Case Number was A243. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

The "Denver Daily Times" published the following on the 18th of August 1876 –

The "Pueblo Republican" furnishes the following list of post office changes in Colorado to August 12th, furnished by Wm. VanVleck, of the Post Office Department; Offices established – Brookvale, Clear Creek county, Wilson E. Sisty, P. M.; (post master) …
Wilson E. Sisty represented Clear Creek County when the first Colorado State Constitution was written and passed by the voters in 1876.

The "Colorado Miner" (Georgetown, Clear Creek County) published the following story on the 23rd of September 1876 –

“Grasshoppers!” said our friend, Sisty, of Brook Vale, “well, Sniktau, I suppose you think you know something about the pests, and I presume you do, comparing your knowledge with that of people who live in countries not yet cursed by the plague of locusts. I thought I knew all about grasshoppers, too, until the recent invasion of the destroying army of occupation, which came, saw, and conquered Bear Creek valley; I now realize the fact that all I had previously learned of locust lore was but the a-b-c of the subject, and I am sorry that circumstances compelled me to go beyond the primer class. In such a case as this ‘ignorance is bliss.’”

“Tell us all about it, Sisty; did they damage your crops?”

And he proceeded to relate the particulars of the incursion. We are sorry we cannot give the story in his own graphic language; but we must content ourselves with a bare recital of the main features of the case. Suddenly, without premonitory warning sometimes given by straggling swarms of advance couriers, the sky was darkened by an immense cloud of these insect pests. Myriads came down and soon destroyed the crops of the settlers, but still the cloud, moving westward, almost obscured the sun. By dint of hard and persistent work, a portion of the vegetable crop was saved, and enough potatoes preserved to winter the farmers’ families; but in a day’s time the surplus wealth of this ordinarily favored valley was food for ‘hoppers. Then the army of invasion commenced passing in its checks. As the ravenous millions were driven up against the high ranges about Mount Evans, they were chilled and commenced falling into the little stream which flows past Sisty’s place, until, for days, the rivulet was transformed from a sparkling stream of limpid water, into a floating mass of dead grasshoppers, the water becoming so corrupt and offensive that neither man nor beast could tolerate it. The trout pond in Mr. Sisty’s meadow became so putrid that he was compelled to cut away the dam and let the accumulated filth flow off. Mr. Sisty says that he never before witnessed such a phenomenon. The theory is that a cold shower along the range threw down the dense swarm of insects, which were drowned, and the little tributary streams swept them into the brook in such numbers that it required days for the whole to be carried away, while the masses that accumulated in the eddies decayed, imparting putridity to the waters.

Mr. S. says the damage caused by the dead insects can be repaired. The fountains will predominate, and the brook will again be sweet and pure; the dam can again be built up and pond stocked with trout from Bear Creek; but the work of the living insects is irreparable – the potatoes and oats are non est comeatibus. We told Sisty that we should put his narrative in print, for the information of eastern readers; but now that we have written it down, we find it comes far short of the graphic reality as he related it. We trust this may prove the last, as it has been the first, experience of this kind and degree the farmers in that locality may be called upon to endure.

The initial appointment of Wilson E. Sisty as Colorado State Fish Commissioner appeared in Volume 19 of Colorado Libraries and the State Senate confirmed the appointment on March 19th –

Colonel Wilson E. Sisty was appointed the first State Fish Commissioner of Colorado in March of 1877. Though he served for eight years without salary, his appointment began the long history of the present day Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The following was published in the "Colorado Springs Gazette" on 1877 December 8 –


The State Fish Commissioner has made his report to the Governor as follow:-

State of Colorado
Office of the Fish Commissioner,
Brookvale, Nov. 28, 1877.

To His Excellency, John L. Routt, Governor of the State of Colorado:-

Sir – In compliance with the law, I herewith submit the following report for your consideration:

I am in correspondence with parties in the Eastern States in regard to the food fishes deemed most suitable to the waters of this State, and hope to do with the very limited amount of funds placed at my disposal, all that can be done the coming year by way of their introduction into the lakes and streams of Colorado.

I have adopted measures to have proper fish-ways erected wherever I had a knowledge of the existence of artificial obstructions in the streams. I have also caused to be prosecuted and fined several parties for the refusal to comply with the law, and hope to have many obstructions removed from the stream by the coming summer, thereby giving to the fish free passage to the upper waters of the different stream.
                          Wilson E. Sisty,
                                   Fish Commissioner

On the 8th of January 1878 Ann (Simpson) Sisty died in Denver. She was forty-six years old. She was buried on the 10th of January in Riverside Cemetery. A search for a record of a death for Ann Simpson Sisty was conducted in the Colorado Office of the State Registrar of Vital Records but no record was found.

The following was published in the "Denver Daily Tribune" on the 10th of January, 1878 –

The funeral of Mrs. W. E. Sisty will take place from the residence on Broadway, between Sixteenth and Seventeenth, at eleven o’clock this morning. All friends of the family are invited to attend.

The following was published in the "Denver Daily Tribune" on the 11th of January, 1878 –

The funeral of Mrs. W. E. Sisty, which took place yesterday, was largely attended.

The following obituary was published in the "Colorado Miner" on the 16th of February 1878 –


Died in Denver, Jan. 8, Mrs. Ann, wife of W. E. Sisty, in the 47th year of her age.

The deceased was born in Mauch Chunk, Penn., a daughter of John Simpson one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church of that place. In 1860, she came to Colorado, where she remained until the day of her death, her residence being in this county. Those who had the pleasure of intimate acquaintance with her, speak of her as a woman in whom dwelt all loveliness of character – a devoted wife – a fond and loving mother. Her illness was of a year’s duration, and though of a painful character, was borne with Christian fortitude; and when the time came for her to bid farewell to the scenes of earth, she died as she had lived, a sincere Christian, laying down her life burden with a sweet resignation and radiant faith in the life immortal.

Her husband and sons, in their sad bereavement, have the heartfelt sympathy of all their friends.

The "Denver Daily Tribune" published the following on the 5th of November 1878 –

Colonel A. M. Cassiday, who is a large owner in the King of the Valley mine at Silver Cliff, has arrived in the city. He has leased two hundred feet of the mine to Sam. Chapin and W. E. Sisty, and as much to Don Slater and others, all of whom are at the Cliff.

And followed it up with this report on the 13th of November 1878 –

Isaac Canfield and Dr. Slater have leased a portion of the mine, and the two Sistys and Sam Chapin have also taken a lease. They pay a royalty to the owners of all the ore they take out. This is proving to be one of the best mines at the Cliff.

The following was published in the 22 May 1880 "Colorado Miner" (Georgetown, Clear Creek County) –

L. C. Carpenter, Supervisor of the Census, has issued commissions to the newly appointed census enumerators for the district of Colorado. There are three for Clear Creek, Messrs. Jno. J. Wyatt, A. K. White and E. B. Sisty.

In 1880 Wilson is living in Bear Creek, Clear Creek County. He is white, male and fifty-two years old. He has been widowed and is a hotel keeper. He was born in Pennsylvania, his father was born in France and his mother was born in Baden. He is living with his son Harry J. who is a white male and eighteen years old. He is single and is “at home.” He was born in Colorado and his parents were born in Pennsylvania. The enumerator for this report was E. B. Sisty,

The following was published in the "Colorado Miner" (Georgetown, Clear Creek County) on the 9th of October 1880 –

Last Sunday morning our attention was directed by Fish Commissioner W. E. Sisty to thousands of angle worms covering the streets and sidewalks. They ranged in length from one to two and a half inches, and while many of them were quite vigorous, others had died from the influence of the sun. The almost entire absence of these worms in the mountains, and the utter impossibility of their existing permanently in our streets, coupled with the fact that many were found on sections of the sidewalks elevated clear above the ground, leaves not a doubt that they fell during the rain of the previous night. Whence they came is as much a mystery to us as the apple dumplings were to King George. Mr. Sisty is of the opinion that this species of fish-bait will be plentiful henceforth, as many of the worms took immediate steps towards establishing permanent quarters. In proof of their scarcity in the mountains we may mention the fact that Commissioner Sisty has imported these worms, at considerable trouble, to his pleasant mountain home at Brookvale.

According to Appleton’s Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1881 regarding the Colorado Legislature –

A law was also passed authorizing the Governor to appoint a State Fish Commissioner, with a salary of $500 per annum, holding office for two years, and the sum of $2,500 was appropriated to purchase grounds and erect a building for a fish-hatchery. For the expenses of maintaining the hatchery during the year ending June 1, 1882, the further sum of $3,500 was appropriated, and for the second year $3,000. Under this law the Governor appointed Wilson E. Sisty to be Fish Commissioner. A fish-hatchery was erected on the river Platte, about three fourths of a mile from Denver. It was opened on the 14th of December and stocked with 400,000 brook-trout eggs from the Old Colony trout-ponds at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The hatchery has fifteen troughs, with a capacity of 1,000,000 eggs.

On January 1, 1883 the State Geologist, J. Alden Smith, submitted his report to the Governor, F. W. Pitkin, which included the following –


This department was inaugurated by the State Government two years since as an experiment, and Hon. Wilson E. Sisty appointed Commissioner. Under his management the progress made and results attained are very gratifying. A large number of German carp have been procured and distributed in the numerous lakes, where they have grown and multiplied. A hatchery has been established eight and a half miles below Denver, near the Platte River. In December, 1881, 310,000 brook trout eggs from Massachusetts

and California were placed in the troughs, 99 1/8 per cent of which were hatched. During the past year 283,000 of these fish were distributed in the streams adapted to them in different quarters, and reports therefrom say they are doing well. Two thousand remain on hand for use of the State. Lots of mirror carp, black bass and croppy have been placed in the ponds at the hatchery, and it is believed they will flourish here as well as in their native waters.

Wilson was listed in the Denver city directories as follows –

1883 Sisty Wilson E., (Darrow & Co.,) and State fish commissioner, 295 15th
1884 Sisty Wilson E., fish commissioner, office, rear 268 16th, r. room 2, 372½ Arapahoe
1885 Sisty Wilson E., fish comr., r. 348 Champa.
1887 Sisty W. E., rear 1218 16th.

Wilson E. Sisty was involved in hotel management. The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 1882 May 21 –

The Spa at Idaho

There are few gentlemen in Colorado who enjoy a larger acquaintance than W. E. Sisty, who for so many years has been proprietor of Brookvale, that delightful mountain resort. Mr. Sisty will not only conduct this place this season but he has also leased the old Beebe House at Idaho Springs, now known as the Spa Hotel, one of the best hotels in the State and always popular. Mr. Sisty has refitted and rejuvenated this well-known hostelrie, secured the best help to be had and will invite the public to one of the most attractive and well-managed hotels in the State. Idaho Springs is known far and wide as a beautiful and healthful little city to visit, with its waters, its baths, its fishing and its drives. Add to these attractions the Spa Hotel with the genial Sisty in charge and all that could be desired for comfort and convenience is assured. When pleasure or health seekers visit Idaho they should register at the Spa.

This is an interesting item appearing in the "Sierra Journal" on 1893 February 1 –

The members of the legislature complain that they are constantly annoyed by the importunities of fish commissioner Sisty, who, while he is a kindly though feeble old gentleman in other regards, seems to have no suspicion that there is such a thing as overdoing the fish business. He is constantly hanging around the assembly trying to worm in legislation bearing upon fishes and pisciculture. His two latest bills are ridiculous on their faces. One is entitled “An Act entitled An Act to Legitimize Bastard Fishes,” and the other is “An Act entitled an Act to Provide for the erection and maintenance of a home for widowed and orphaned brook trout.” What the legislature ought to do under the circumstances would be to instruct the Sergeant-at-arms to put the old man out whenever he shows up. – Denver Tribune.

And he advertised the hotels. The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 1883 June 25 and on other dates –

Always Cool

Sisty’s Brookvale, the coolest resort in Colorado, is now open for the season. Stages leave Morrison daily, or the trip can be made in a private conveyance from Idaho Springs – (nine miles.) The scenery is as fine as any in the state, it is always cool and comfortable, the table supplied with all seasonable delicacies and it is the place to pass a pleasant vacation. For further information call at 295 Fifteenth street.

H. J. Sisty, proprietor.

Wilson’s twenty-two year old son, Henry J., apparently was involved in the management of the hotel.

The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 1883 May 21 and was reprinted in the "San Francisco Bulletin," the "Ohio Repository," the "New Hampshire Patriot," the "Daily Yellowstone Review," the "Hudson (NY) Daily Evening Register" and the "New York Times" and many others –


Strange Experience of Fish Commissioner Sisty at the State Fishery Yesterday.

Col. Wilson E. Sisty, Fish Commissioner of Colorado, yesterday, while visiting the State fish hatchery, nine miles down the Platte, observed a huge blue heron preying upon the young fish in the boxes. Col. Sisty had frequently seen the bird engaged in this before, but the bird had invariably flown upon his approach. Yesterday the heron, instead of taking alarm, appeared to become greatly enraged at the interruption, and, with out-stretched wings, rushed at Col. Sisty. The bird stood fully as high as Col. Sisty, who is slightly over 5 feet 2 inches, and was of great swiftness of movement as well as considerable strength. It used its head and neck with lightning-like rapidity, striking steadily for the Colonel’s face. He was unable to more than protect his eyes for some little time, so fierce was its attack, and the blows rained upon his hands in protecting his face left them bleeding badly. His face was also cut in places. After the first surprise Col. Sisty prepared to assume the offensive. Protecting his face with his hat, he rushed in upon the huge heron, and, seizing it by the body, threw it to the ground. Then, kneeling upon it, he clasped it by the throat until life was extinct. Col. Sisty, though suffering considerably from the loss of blood, managed to carry the bird to his buggy, in which he brought it to town. The body of the bird was last evening turned over to a taxidermist, who will prepare it for exhibition at the hatchery. Col. Sisty’s wounds were dressed by Dr. Lemen, who pronounced them painful but not dangerous. Col. Sisty is of the opinion that the bird must have its nest in the vicinity of the hatchery, and that the attack was made in defense of its young, as he never knew a bird of this kind before to show fight.

This is from the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" of 1884 January 29 –


State Fish Commissioner Sisty, Home With His Legacy

A month ago State Fish Commissioner Sisty, was called to New Haven, Conn., by a telegram announcing that a very wealthy grand uncle of his lay at the point of death. The tender-hearted grand nephew, who had not been east of Denver since the Fall of 1859, immediately took the first train for his birthplace. He arrived in time to receive the last blessing of his relative, and when the will was read it was found that, though gone for so long a period, William E. had not been forgotten. His share of the estate amounted to $50,000 in 4 per cent government bonds. The fish commissioner packed his wealth in an innocent-looking old cloth satchel and came back, stopping by the way for ten days in Reading. Pa. He reached Denver yesterday morning, and was warmly welcomed by his many friends. He says the weather in the East has been abominable, and that he would not make the trip again at this season of the year for double the legacy he received. He never saw the sun but once, he says, while he was away. To hear him tell this wonder of meteorology, one would think that his vision was obscured by clouds and fogs, but some of the knowing ones profess to believe that the commissioner kept such bad hours that he and the sun were never up at the same time.

It is understood that Mr. Sisty will change his bonds into cash, the bonds now selling at 121½, and will invest half of the proceeds in Denver real estate and the other half in good mining prospects. All who know how genial and kind-hearted he is will rejoice in his good fortune.

In 1885 Wilson is living in Arapahoe Colorado. He is fifty-seven years old and is widowed. His occupation is Supt (?). He gives his birthplace as Pennsylvania, his father’s birthplace as France and his mother’s birthplace as Germany.

Wilson E. Sisty was the Secretary of the Denver Jockey Club –

And he even had a horse named after him. The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 24 May 1885 –
Bill Sisty is a very handsome animal, with clear straight limbs, deep flanks, high, broad shoulders, and a fast look about him which will make him be dreaded among the runners. He is a 1-year-old and owned by Charley Wright of Denver. He is called after the efficient secretary of the club, but does not resemble the latter, being a bright bay, while Colonel Sisty is a pronounced dapple-gray. The horse is a Trump, and a very good looking one at that.

The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 28 May 1885 –

Caricature of Colonel W.E. Sisty – "Denver Rocky Mountain News." Genealogy Bank.
Bill Sisty won the five-eights mile dash in magnificent shape and gave another proof of his great speed. The time was two seconds faster than the already good Colorado record for this distance, and when it is considered that he had run and won the one and one-eighth mile dash the previous day against so good a mare as Rosaline, the achievement is something remarkable. In this race the heavy betters who always bet on the favorite were again greatly chagrined. . . . The race was one of the most hotly contested of the first three days. As a result of Sisty and the Ute running first and second in so good a race and the previous victory of Sisty, the Trump colts are better spoken of than for some time. . . . The start was secured after several trials in which Sisty seemed determined to get away ahead. Sisty took the lead at once and held it through the race. Ute made a good race for second place and finished only a short length behind the leader. . . . Time, 1:03. Sisty’s victory was all the more remarkable as he had won the mile and an eighth dash of the previous day, and shows him to be without a peer among Western running horses. The time made was two seconds faster than ever before on a Denver track.
And Wilson could tell a story. The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 1885 June 8 –

“Gentlemen,” remarked Colonel Sisty, “thin stories are well enough in their way, but truth is mighty and must prevail. When I first came to Colorado I was six feet four inches high in my stocking feet. I had been here about four years, Jake Serf happened in town one day. He wanted to go to Cheyenne and induced me to go along with him. We hired a couple of bronchos and left here one morning about sunrise. By noon we were about forty miles on our way when there came up a shower – I considered it a shower but Jake said it was the worst storm he ever saw. The rain didn’t fall in drops but in continuous streams as large as your arm, and when one of them struck you on the head it was with the force of a pile driver. The storm didn’t last more than ten minutes but when we got out of it I had been


"I actually believe that if it had lasted five minutes longer I would have been beaten as flat as a worn quarter without even a protuberance for a head."

“Well, I’ll tell you. When the rain stopped we found ourselves near O’Connor’s ranch. We rode up and asked permission to dry ourselves. We went in and I attempted to take off my overcoat. It could not be done. It actually had to be slit with a pocketknife and removed in strips, the same as you take the peel from an orange.”

But less than a month after the big horse race a mishap befell him. The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 24 June 1885 –


A Vicious Horse Inflicts a Violent Kick, Breaking Four of the Unfortunate Man’s Ribs

A painful accident happened to Colonel Wilson E. Sisty yesterday afternoon by which he sustained the fracture of four of his ribs. It seems that at about 2 p.m. he went into the barn of Hamill’s ranch, of which he is the superintendent, for the purpose of feeding a horse. The latter taking exceptions to the fact that the colonel was in his shirt sleeves, raised one of his hind feet and inflicted a terrible kick in the side of his attendant with the result above stated. Dr. C. C. Lathrop was notified and immediately drove to the ranch, where he set the broken bones and made the suffered as comfortable as possible. He was afterward brought to Denver and taken to his home, No. 348 Champa street. Dr. Lathrop thinks the injuries not particularly serious and that he will shortly recover.

More problems with horses befell Wilson. The following was published in the 28 June 1887 "Denver Rocky Mountain News" –
Colonel Bill Sisty, manager of Bill Hamill’s great milk ranch, drove proudly to the city yesterday morning at the head of his milk train. After giving the boys orders and posting them on the difference, and how to tell it, between cream and milk, he whirled away in his buggy down on Lawrence street and tied his blooded mare to a post in front of “drug store” a few doors below Zippar’s restaurant. Entering the wet goods establishment he struck a stage attitude and led off with a bit of Romeo:
“Let me have
A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
As will disperse itself through all the veins,
That the weary taker denominates an appetizer”
A mysterious but mixed beverage was placed before the milk prince, with a glass of aqua (an article extensively used on all milk ranches) “on the side” and serving as a sort of “tender” to the ordered prescription. Bitter as he knew the dose to be, Bill closed his tired eyes and swallowed it, at the same time throwing down as payment, a well-thumbed ticket, “good for one quart of pure milk.”

After passing the time of day with the druggist and asking him “how he was fixed for milk,” Colonel Bill pushed out to scent the morning air. He reached the front door just in time to see a great rude runaway ice wagon, drawn by two great coarse and uncurried runaway horses, collide with his elegant side-bar Brewster and blooded mare, which floundered in the gutter while the air was filled with buggy splinters and fancy harness buckles. This same air, in the immediate vicinity of Colonel Sisty, turned to as beautiful a sky blue as ever garnished a Colorado sunset. The Colonel estimates the damages to his turnout as $321.50.

On the 14th of October 1889 Wilson Edward Sisty died in Denver. He was eighty-three years old. He was buried on the 16th of October in Riverside Cemetery. A search for a record of a death for Wilson Edward Sisty was conducted in the Colorado Office of the State Registrar of Vital Records but no record was found.

The following was published in the "Denver Republican" on 1889 October 15 –


At a little after 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon the last breath was drawn by one of the oldest and best known of the early pioneers of Colorado, William B. (sic) Sisty.

Mr. Sisty was one of the first to land in the Pike’s Peak country, and in the winter of 1865-6 (sic) was a deputy sheriff under the provisional government. Of course he was a miner, and in days gone by many good properties have been under his management. When the office of state fish commissioner was established Mr. Sisty was put in charge, and he did some very good work for the State.

At one time last evening one corner of the lobby of the Windsor was filled with Colorado pioneers. The chief topic of conversation was the last vacancy in the ranks. Some of the younger members eyed their elder brothers with a questioning glance as much as to say, Will it be your turn next?

“Bill” Sisty was warm-hearted and generous, quick to make friends, and he numbered them by the hundreds in all classes and conditions of society.

The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 1889 October 16 –

- Mexican veterans are requested to meet at 1724 Lawrence street to-day at 2 p.m. to attend the funeral of W. E. Sisty.

- The members of the Society of Colorado Pioneers are requested to meet at city hall at 1:30 p.m. to-day to attend the funeral of W. E. Sisty.

The following was published in the "Denver Rocky Mountain News" on 1889 October 17 –
W.E. Sisty’s Cemetery Monument with Reenactor. Copyright 2009 Denver Police Law Enforcement Museum, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

The funeral over the remains of Wilson E. Sisty took place yesterday from Miller’s undertaking rooms. It was very largely attended, among those present being about seventy-five members of the society of Colorado Pioneers and nearly all the Mexican veterans who survive. Services were held over the remains by Rev. A. A. Cameron, who delivered a short address, touching upon the excellent qualities of the departed. Interment was at Riverside cemetery.

This was published in the "Denver Post" in 28 June 1901 –

Wagon Road Company the First.

The first incorporation papers filed in the state of Colorado were found yesterday among the records of the secretary of state’s office. On the back of the document is written the following: “Certificate of organization of Clear Creek and Hot Sulphur Springs Wagon Road company. Filed for record Oct. 13, 1862, 10 o’clock a.m. Recorded in Book A, pages 3 and 4.” On the bottom of the page is the signature of “Sam H. Elbert, secretary of Colorado territory.” The company was organized October 9, 1862. The road was to run from “Empire City, in Clear Creek county, to Bang’s creek, some three miles westerly from the Hot Sulphur springs, in the Middle park, in the county of Summit.” The company had a capitalization of $6,000, with the following incorporators: Wilson E. Sisty, William H. Russell, Gilbert B. Reed, Samuel R. Womack, Charles C. Bangs.

This was published in the "Colorado Transcript" (Golden, Jefferson County) on 21 December 1911, –

Georgetown Courier –

Downieville was probably the first townsite located in Clear Creek county. The townsite consisting of 90 acres, was taken up on the 5th of August, 1859, by Wilson E. Sisty, Col. Sam McLean and 35 others. For a time the town was the most thrifty of any of the mining camps, but the placers did not pan out enough gold to make mining profitable. The town supported a theatrical company for a summer in 1860 and the people used to walk over from Central City to attend performances.

The archives of the probate court in Denver was contacted and the files were searched as well as the large wills files and no will was found for Wilson E. Sisty.

The following resolution was promulgated on the 22nd of November 2011, 150 years after the establishment of Brookvale as a town in Colorado –












Parents of Wilson Edward Sisty: Children of Wilson Edward Sisty and Ann Simpson:
Last updated: Friday, 02-Nov-2018 13:14:22 MDT | Author: Ed Mashmann