Edward Wanshear Wynkoop. 71
EDWARD WANSHEAR WYNKOOP.
Written for the Kansas State Historical Society by Edward E. Wynkoop,  of Stockton, Cal.
MY FATHER, Edward Wanshear Wynkoop, well known to the pioneers of Kansas territory, was born at Philadelphia, Pa., on June 19, 1836, and was the youngest child of a family of eight brothers and sisters.
He passed his boyhood days in the anthracite coal regions of his native state, and when about twenty years of age, journeyed to Lecompton, Kansas territory, to enter service in the United States land office there, then under the charge of his sister Emily's husband, General William Brindle. 
Shortly afterwards the trouble between the free-state and pro-slavery factions became acute, and he espoused the cause of the free soilers, seeing much dangerous service during the troublous period that earned for the now great state her title of "Bleeding Kansas." During the year 1858 General J. W. Denver, then governor of Kansas territory, formed a party of provisional officers to administer the civil affairs of a community of goldseekers who had settled at the junction of Cherry creek and the South Platte river, where now is Denver city. At that time the state of Colorado had not been created, and its present boundaries were embraced by Kansas territory, so it was properly under control of Governor Denver. Edward W. Wynkoop of this party had been named as sheriff in the little group of officials, therefore was the first Sheriff of Arapahoe county,  in which Denver was afterwards situated.
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city, one hundred and nineteen miles south of Denver, and during the early autumn of the same year crossed the Palmer Lake Divide and reached their objective point, Auraria,  situated on the south bank of Cherry creek. Considerable friction ensued on the coming of the governor's representatives; so the latter, accompanied by other late arrivals, moved to the east bank of Cherry creek and established a town site, which they named St. Charles.  There cabins were erected and authorized civil government began.
A town-site company had been formed and there was some talk of seeking a charter for it from the Kansas legislature, then on the eve of going into session. The name that had been chosen, St. Charles, was not satisfactory to the party generally, so a meeting was held one evening about a great campfire to choose one more distinctive. A number were proposed and rejected, when E. W. Wynkoop, almost startled at his own youthful temerity, arose and remarked, "Why not name it after our worthy governor, Denver?"
Immediately there was unanimous consent to this proposition, and during further proceedings "Ned" Wynkoop and "Al" Steinberger were chosen as a committee of two, delegated to call on the Kansas legislature, six hundred miles distant, with the purpose of obtaining a charter for the new town site.
Aurarians, just across the creek, had also made plans to get a charter for their townsite; so a race to Lecompton was likely between the two committees. The Aurarian representatives lagged, however, deeming the weather too cold for an advance by their rivals, so the Denver committee stole a march on them, braved the severity of the winter weather, and after much hardship reached Lecompton. Returning later with the coveted charter, they met the Auraria committee traveling to obtain one. Thus was Denver named and its name fixed for all time in history. 
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Wynkoop next engaged in placer mining up Clear Creek northwest of Denver taking out a large "stake." He sold out his interest in the gulch for a considerable sum just prior to the beginning of the Civil War. During his mining days he had been married to Miss Louisa M. Brown, whose family had journeyed to Denver from London, England, and a son -- myself -- was born of the union. Then the war clouds drifted from the far east over Denver and the First Regiment of Colorado volunteers, infantry was formed to assist in preserving the Union of the states, Wynkoop joining as second lieutenant of company A. Colonel Slough, well known to many
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Kansans of that period, was in command of the regiment, while Samuel L. Tappan was lieutenant-colonel.
For some time during preparations and fuller enlistment, the Regiment was in detention at Camp Weld on the west bank of the South Platte river, almost opposite Denver, and during this time Wynkoop was promoted to the captaincy of his company, August 26, 1861.
On February 14, 1862, Acting Governor Weld received orders from General Hunter to send all available troops to reinforce Canby and oppose the advance of Confederate Texans through New Mexico. On the 22d the First Colorado set out. One or two companies had been mounted for scouting purposes. Proceeding south with all possible speed, the command soon joined forces with the Federal troops who bad been driven in retreat to Fort Union, New Mexico. At Fort Union the Colorado regiment remained twelve days, until March 22, when under Colonel Slough they were led southward toward Santa Fe, by way of Las Vegas.
At Bernal Springs Colonel Slough determined to hurry a detachment on into Santa Fe, there to surprise the enemy. This detachment he placed in command of Major Chivington, and with it went Captain Wynkoop with sixty picked men of his company. The detachment left the main body of the troops on the afternoon of March 25, and that evening, word coming in that Confederates had been seen in the neighborhood, a detail was sent to scout. They surprised and captured some Texan pickets, bringing them into camp. The next morning, March 26, the detachment started on a cautious advance, meeting in the afternoon, in Apache cañon, a body of Confederates under Major Pyron. The battle was short and sharp, resulting in a decided victory for Chivington and his men. After the fight, on account of better camping ground, Chivington fell back to Kozlowski's ranch, where he was joined by Colonel Slough with the rest of the regiment.
The engagement of Apache cañon was followed by the gory contest of Gloriéta pass -- frequently called Pigeon's ranch -- March 28, 1862. Here the fighting was fast and furious, and one of the spectacular as well as gallant occurrences was the capture of the wagon train, ammunition and valuable stores of the enemy by Major Chivington's detachment, in which Captain Wynkoop commanded a battalion. These men fairly slid down a steep mountain side upon the unsuspecting Texans.
La Gloriéta inflicted a serious loss on the Confederates; their stores were taken and destroyed; and their horses and mules, found corraled, were bayoneted. The Texans were finely mounted, and it went hard with them to have to walk.
After this battle, on order from General Canby, the Union troops fell back to Fort Union. They remained there but a few days when orders came from Canby to hasten to his aid near Albuquerque. He had formulated a plan to compel Sibley and his army to withdraw from New Mexico, and had found them occupying Albuquerque, having evacuated Santa Fe April 5 on their "retrograde movement." After some skirmishing Canby withdrew from Albuquerque some fifteen miles to await his reinforcements from Fort Union, which arrived April 13. The day following, the entire command set out in the wake of Sibley's army, which had in the meantime withdrawn from Albuquerque and started south.
At Péralto the Confederates were surprised and a sharp skirmish ensued.
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But the strength of Sibley's army was broken and they were already in full retreat. 
Captain Wynkoop, for distinguished services, was promoted to major of the First Colorado in April, 1862, filling the place made vacant by the promotion of Major Chivington, who became colonel of the regiment on the resignation of Colonel Slough.
After Péralto the fighting amounted to little, consisting of pursuit and a few skirmishes, so the regiment was divided and placed in garrison at several points in New Mexico, Major Wynkoop being held in command of Camp Valverde for six months longer. Many of the wives of the officers and privates had joined their husbands long before this term of garrison duty was ended, among them being Mrs. Wynkoop; so when the Colorado volunteers returned to Denver the march had much the resemblance of a big family party on its way home from some holiday expedition.
Through the efforts of Colonel Chivington the regiment was transferred to the cavalry arm of the service, November 1, 1862, its new designation being First Colorado cavalry, and was ordered back to its home state for service early in 1863. At the beginning of the New Mexican campaign the Texans had called the Colorado troops "Pet Lambs," but after Gloriéta they formed a different opinion of the "Pike's Peakers," regarding them as "regular demons." However, the sobriquet hung, and the banner of the veteran battalion, First Colorado cavalry, had as an emblem the figure of a lamb with the word "Pet" above it.
In Colorado the troops were placed at various forts with the exception of five squadrons. This command was sent out under Major Wynkoop to find and punish the Ute Indians, who had been raiding in central Colorado. After an extended, useless search for the marauding tribesmen, during which the command suffered many privations, Major Wynkoop led his troopers back to Denver. There they were received by the governor.
Major Wynkoop was sent to take command of Fort Lyon, Colo., in the spring of 1864, with Captain Soule as second officer. At that point history was subsequently made that has caused bitter differences of opinion throughout the state until the present moment, arising from what was known as the "Sand Creek Massacre." Its story runs about as follows:
The Cheyenne Indians had been on the war path in southeastern Colorado, in which locality Fort Lyon was situated, and it was the business of that garrison to prevent their depredations so far as was possible. Scouting parties from there and adjacent garrisons harassed the Indians considerably until probably the latter began to realize that a movement for peace was most politic, for at last there were indications that they desired to make a treaty with the government.
There being reason to expect treachery on the part of the redskins, Major Wynkoop had issued strict orders that any of them seen approaching the guard lines should be shot, and he notified the Cheyennes of his decision in this respect. Despite the danger however, a lonely Cheyenne warrior appeared one day waving a flag of truce, and utterly disregarding the repeated warnings of the sentinels, calmly walked within rifle range. Wynkoop had
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been summoned while the Indian was coming forward, and appeared just as the sentinels were about to fire. He immediately ordered that the Indian be not harmed and him brought in for a parley. Then it was discovered that the Cheyenne, One Eye, was an emissary from his band, come to plead for peace.
Admiring the man's courage and supreme unselfishness in calmly facing almost certain death for his people's welfare, Major Wynkoop hearkened to his plea and assured him that an effort would be made to have a peace treaty concluded. Wynkoop stipulated, however, that the band to which One Eye belonged should surrender as prisoners of war and establish camp at Sand Creek, about five miles from Fort Lyon; Chiefs Black Kettle and White Antelope, brothers, at the head of the band in question, were to consider themselves hostages as a guarantee of the good behavior of the warriors. This was assented to, and besides surrendering, the Cheyennes turned over to Wynkoop four white captives -- Laura Roper, two boys, and a tiny flaxen haired girl, Isabella Eubanks.  The Indians were acting in good faith and trusted to white men's promises implicitly; only, alas, to find greater treachery among the people of civilization than any they had ever practiced.
With his two main hostages, and five other chiefs regarded in the same light, and the four who had been liberated from captivity, Wynkoop traveled to Denver, his purpose being to enlist the governor's aid in having the authorities at Washington make a Peace treaty with the willing Cheyennes -- a far more humane method than to pursue and slaughter them. Not being able to do much there in this direction, he soon returned to Fort Lyon with his hostages.
In the meantime a hastily formed one-hundred-day regiment, properly the Third regiment, Colorado volunteers -- had been enlisted at Denver, on the representation to the War Department by Colorado's governor that it was needed to protect settlers from Cheyenne depredations. Colonel Chivington was placed in command of this regiment, and led it southward, determined to obliterate the trustful prisoners of war encamped at Sand creek. Also at this juncture some secret influence caused Wynkoop to be transferred to the command at Fort Riley, Kansas, Major Scott J. Anthony being sent to relieve him at Fort Lyon.
In the presence of Major Wynkoop, Major Anthony met the Cheyenne chiefs and promised to protect them as prisoners of war; so Wynkoop departed for his new assignment. Two days later the new regiment arrived at Fort Lyon, surrounded that post with a cordon of sentinels so that news of their purpose should not reach the Indians, and called on Major Anthony to accompany them to the field of their intended operations that night. Anthony is said to have expostulated against the murderous plan, but was overruled by his ranking officer, Chivington; the ending of the matter being that Captain Soule of the garrison was ordered to take several platoons from the forces of the fort and accompany the Third regiment. This be did, but when the dreadful slaughter began this brave officer resolutely refused to have a hand in it. Chivington stormed at his decision and threatened him
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with arrest in irons and subsequent court martial, but he remained steadfast to principle; neither would his men fire a shot, although repeatedly ordered to do so by Chivington, all sitting on their horses like statues during the whole bloody affair. The men of the Third regiment had stolen stealthily upon their unsuspecting quarry and had been most advantageously placed, so that the fearful work proceeded without a hitch.
But let the veil be drawn over the scenes of ferocious atrocity, in which defenseless men, crying women and innocent babes met with such inhumanity as is supposed to be typical of savagery only. The morn might well blush, the heavens weep at sight of civilization's crime! The date of this massacre was November 27, 1864.
Wynkoop was wild with rage when he heard of the crime committed by Chivington and his command, and demanded their trial and punishment for the deed. But strong, hidden forces -- forces which lie in safe covert to avoid danger when the soldier is at the front, but often reach forth their slimy fingers to befoul his good record -- demanded that Wynkoop be punished for leaving his post of duty with his hostages, even though it was vitally necessary that he do so in those days of slow communication between heads of government and their subordinates.
The outcome of the whole matter was that Wynkoop's actions were very thoroughly investigated by the federal government, he was exonerated from blame and officially praised, afterward being appointed chief of cavalry for the Upper Arkansas district, on June 17, 1865, by command of Major General Dodge, commanding the Department of the Missouri. On March 13, 1865, prior to this appointment, Wynkoop had been brevetted lieutenant-colonel.
On the other hand, Chivington and some of the officers narrowly escaped being imprisoned for long terms as punishment for their joint crime at Sand creek, and were bitterly censured by the War Department. This is a matter of official record at Washington, D. C., where also forty pages of the records were devoted to the military achievements of Major E. W. Wynkoop.
As a side incident, let it be added that afterwards Captain Soule was murdered, after testifying against the Third regiment at Denver. Wynkoop caused the arrest of the assassin later and sent him to Denver for trial; but his custodian, Lieutenant James Connor of the First Colorado volunteers was poisoned to death in his bed and the prisoner was aided to escape.
Having become disgusted with the conduct of these matters in Colorado and the war being practically ended, Wynkoop resigned from the army on July 11, 1866, and proceeded to Washington, D. C., to confer with President Andrew Johnson, successor of our martyred Lincoln.
Senator James R. Doolittle accompanied him and urged the President to appoint him agent for the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indian tribes. Johnson demurred, desiring to retain him in military service, and offering him a commission as captain in the regular army. This Wynkoop refused, explaining that he had no desire to be a soldier in time of peace, and that he believed himself able to do much in the settlement of the vexatious Indian problem if appointed to the position he had applied for. At last President Johnson agreed to do this, and shortly afterwards Wynkoop was sent to Fort Larned, Kan., to enter upon his new duties.
His success with his charges, after they understood that he desired to
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deal with them justly, was brilliant; so much so that his fame in that respect was well known throughout the East, and he was even invited to deliver an address at Cooper Institute, New York City, on the Indian question, following his resignation as Indian agent. This he did, and some of his ideas there expressed have since been in constant use in dealing with agency Indians.
He resigned as Indian agent in 1868 and went to Pennsylvania to engage in the iron-making business with his brother John, an ex-colonel of a Pennsylvania war regiment of brilliant record, as partner, and was almost immediately successful. This good fortune continued until the panic of the early '70s struck the country, ruining thousands of prosperous business concerns, when he and his brother suffered the common fate of the unfortunate of that dark financial period.
A struggle for existence ensued with him, and at length he joined the general rush then being made into the newly opened Black Hills gold country during the year 1874. He fought his way to Custer, S. Dak., through hordes of Sioux Indians, after having been wounded during an attack made by the savages upon his party. At Custer he was unanimously elected to the command of a body of three hundred rangers just raised there, with "Jack" Crawford, the "Poet Scout," as second officer. After some service in Indian fighting for the Custer city people he traveled onward to the famous Deadwood city, and there took up a mining claim that yielded him a fair living. This claim, the LuLu Lode, he later disposed of for a moderate price, and it afterward became a famous producer. He then entered the service of a Deadwood newspaper and started east in an endeavor to improve its business.
At that time the Custer massacre had just occurred, but the Black Hills people did not hear of it until a month later, although so close to its location. The roving bands of Indians had made communication with the outside world so unsafe as to temporarily paralyze it. Again, through peril, Wynkoop and four companions made their way slowly, the party having many startling and queer adventures, and at last floated down the Missouri river on a raft to civilization and safety.
After reaching Pennsylvania, feeling that return to the Black Hills was inadvisable, Wynkoop went from one employment to another up to the time of his appointment as United States timber agent for Colorado in 1882. This district he held for some time, then was transferred to the District embracing New Mexico and Arizona, with headquarters at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although his services were satisfactory in every respect, he was superseded by a new appointee on change of administration at Washington.
In 1890 he was appointed warden of the territorial penitentiary for New Mexico by Governor Prince of that territory, giving entire satisfaction during his term of service. However, some time in 1891 he was superseded, during the temporary absence of the governor, by a new appointee of a partisan board of penitentiary managers.
During Wynkoop's residence in New Mexico he had been appointed adjutant general of the territory, and was elected commander of Carleton Post, Grand Army of the Republic, and also department commander for the southwest district of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1884.
Major Wynkoop died September 11, 1891, at the age of fifty-five years, leaving a widow, three daughters and five sons. He is buried in the National Cemetery at Santa Fe, N. M. Throughout the Southwest, and as far north
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as Montana and the Dakotas, newspapers mentioned his decease and followed with praise of his character and achievements; the least said about him by the most frugal of word in this respect being that he was honest, brave and loyal to the core.
Possibly he was less honored in this manner in Denver than by other communities that had intimately known him -- Denver, the city he had named,  which he had ever loved, and whose unworthy and unjust elements he had ever fought the hardest against.
A street is named after him there, the only honor vouchsafed him, but numerous attempts have been made to even blot his name from the city's map; so far without success.
Rancor dies hard, but love is immortal, after all!
A comrade, Captain Jack Crawford, has expressed this love in a beautiful poem -- one of those emanations from the muse of poetry into which she has breathed her own eternal life and undying spirit. Reading it, I am satisfied with all that I have written above.
Note 1. -- EDWARD ESTILL WYNKOOP, son of Edward Wanshear Wynkoop and his wife Louisa Matilda Brown, was born in Denver, Colo., October 6, 1861, and received his education in the public schools of his native city. On June 22, 1898 he married Miss Nellie August Pettee, in Cheyenne, Wyo. She was a native of Boston, Mass., born February 7, 1866, and died at Stockton, Cal., April 10, 1914. The Wynkoop ancestry is an interesting one. The first member of the family was a Hollander who helped in the establishment of New Amsterdam (New York City). Successive generations have served in practically all the wars of the United States -- the war of the Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, the Rebellion, and the Spanish-American War. [Back]
Note 2. -- For some account of General William Brindle see Kansas Historical Collections, vol. 8, p. 4 et seq. [Back]
Note 3. -- Arapahoe county, K. T., was organized and its boundaries defined by the legislature of 1855. Under the same act Allen P. Tibbitts was appointed probate judge of the county, with power to appoint a sheriff, a treasurer, a surveyor, and justices of the peace, all of who were to hold office until the first general election. James Clerk was appointed clerk of the probate court and Levi Mitchell and Jonathan Atwood, with A. P. Tibbitts, were appointed commissioners to locate the county seat, which was to be known as "Mountain City." This commission was afterward to serve as county commissioners. The county organization, however, was evidently not completed, for the same legislature (1855) passed an act providing for the annual election of a representative to the territorial legislature and attached the county to Marshall county for all purposes. However, in September (exact date not given), 1855, commmissions were issued to Allen P. Tibbitts as probate Judge of Arapahoe county, and James Stringfellow as clerk of the probate court. [Executive Minutes, Governor Wilson Shannon, Historical Collections, vol. 3, p. 286.] In the early summer of 1858 gold was found not far from Cherry creek, and prospectors began to go into the country. Governor Denver was thereby influenced to reorganize Arapahoe county and provide a government. Therefore on September 21, 1858, commissions were issued to the following officers of Arapahoe county, by virtue of their appointment by the governor to fill vacancies: H. P. A. Smith as probate judge; Edward W. Wynkoop, as sheriff; Hickory Rogers, as chairman of supervisors; John H. St. Mathews, as county attorney; John Larimer, as treasurer; Joseph McCubbin and Lucillias J. Winchester, as supervisors; and Hampton L. Boan, as clerk of supervisors." [Kansas Minutes Governor Denver, Kansas State Historical Collections, vol. 5, p. 512.] [Back]
Note 4. -- ". . . The Denver officers went to Auraria, which they had selected as their headquarters, and the site of the future 'Denver City'." -- From statement of Mr. W. O'Donnell in the Lawrence Republican, January 13, 1859. [Back]
Note 5. -- ". . . St. Charles, situated on the east bank of Cherry creek, and is the county seat, established by the corps of officers sent out by Governor Denver; Denver City, so called, is merely a part of St. Charles." -- From statement of Colonel Nichols, in the Lawrence Republican, December 30, 1858. [Back]
Note 6. -- It may be of interest here to give in brief the incorporations of Denver. Auraria, on the west side of Cherry creek, was the first town started on land now embraced within the limits of Denver. In the latter part of October, 1858, and shortly after the beginning of Auraria, St. Charles sprang up on the east side of the creek, General William Larimer being an original inhabitant. In less than a month the St. Charles town site changed hands and became known as "Denver"; Colonel Richard E. Whitsitt was the secretary of the second town company. In the "Private Laws of Kansas, 1859," p. 226, may be found "an act incorporating the St. Charles Town Company." The members of the company mentioned are Admah French, Wm. McGall, Theodore C. Dickson, Frank M. Cobb, Charles Nicholls, Edward W. Wynkoop, William Larimer, jr., Charles Lawrence, William Hartley, jr., and Lloyd Nichols. This act was approved February 11, 1859.
Because the seat of government was so far away there was much confusion in the enforcing of laws in Arapahoe county, and several efforts were made to establish a territorial provisional government. Finally after the adoption of a constitution for the Territory of Jefferson an election was held October 24, 1859 and provisional officers were elected. On November 7, a provisional legislature convened, did business for a month, and adjourned December 7. One of its acts was a charter and incorporation papers granted to the "City of Denver." The day following the adjournment of the legislature of the Territory of Jefferson an election was held by the faction upholding the Kansas government, and Richard Sopris was elected a representative from Arapahoe county to the Kansas Territoral legislature. During his incumbency Mr. Sopris introduced three bills relative to Arapahoe county towns which became laws. One to "incorporate and establish the city of Auraria, Kansas territory," appproved February 27, 1860. [Private Laws of Kansas, 1860, p. 58.] Another to "consolidate the cities of Auraria, Denver and Highland" (Highland had been organized in the autumn of 1859), approved February 27, 1860. [Ibid., p. 72.] This bill authorized an election to be held in the three cities "for the purpose of ascertaining the sense of the inhabitants . . . in regard to consolidating all three . . . under one name and one common municipal government." The "one name" was to be "Oropolis." The third bill was "An act to incorporate and establish the city of Denver, Kansas territory." This was approved likewise on February 27, 1860. [Ibid., p. 86.]
After the boundaries of Kansas became definitely fixed, the erection of Colorado as a territory followed, and its first legislature, begun September 9, 1861, incorporated the city of Denver, act being approved November 7, 1861. [Laws of Colorado 1861. p. 483.] [Back]
Note 7. -- For a more extended account of the First Colorado regiment in the campaign in New Mexico, see "Colorado Volunteers in the Civil War, New Mexico Campaign in 1862," by W. C. Whitford, published by the Colorado State Historical and Natural History Society, 1906; and Dr. Frank Hall's "History of Colorado," 1889, p. 275 et seq. [Back]
Note 8. -- For accounts of these Indian captives see also Frank Hall's "History of Colorado," p. 335 et seq; Transactions Nebraska State Historical Society, vol. 2, p. 198; Dawson's "Pioneer Tales of the Oregon Trail," p. 171; and Root's "Overland Stage to California," p. 353. [Back]
Note 9. -- While Major Wynkoop and his family were living in Denver, a daughter of Governor J. W. Denver, visited them to express her appreciation that so beautiful a city should bear her father's name. [Back]
Wynkoop, Edward E., "Edward Wanshear Wynkoop,"
Created April 26, 1999; Revised April 25, 2006
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Copyright © 1999, 2001-2006 by Christopher H. Wynkoop, All Rights Reserved
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