Relative to Col. E. W. Wynkoop
By Frank M. Wynkoop (a son)
Relative to the Career of Colonel Edward Wynkoop Which
Are Not at All or Incompletely Included
in This Scrapbook
When young Ned Wynkoop, then twenty years of age, left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his birthplace, for Kansas Territory in 1856 he traveled as far as Pittsburgh by train, from there down the Ohio river to its junction with the Mississippi, next up the mother of waters on a side-wheeler, the steamer F. X. Aubrey, to the site of Leavenworth, then on to Lecompton, the capital and home of General William Brindle, Mexican war veteran and in charge of the United States Land office there, and Mrs. Brindle, Ned's sister Emily, making his home with them up to the time of his departure for the future site of Denver.
* * *
He was one of a party consisting of 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 surpervisors, appointed and sent by Governor J. W. Denver to where the city of his name is now situated, to establish the county of Arapaho, Kansas Territory. Although but twenty years of age at the time young Wynkoop had been selected for the office of sheriff principally because of his fearlessness and good judgment, as well as due to being six feet-three inches tall, broad-shouldered and athletically built - already a man capable of coping with events of an undeveloped and turbulent land. Upon arrival the party at first camped under some cottonwood trees growing where are the present union depot and railroad yards. It was here that the name of the townsite they decided to found was chosen. Following much insistent discussion of proposals which were opposed, Wynkoop, who had been selected as secretary of the company and was an intimate friend of Governor Denver, finally said: "Why not name it after our governor?" At first this was bitterly opposed by some, but ultimately Wynkoop's suggestion prevailed and Denver it became. Also the first thoroughfare of the city to be named was Wynkoop street, which adjoins the present depot.
* * *
During a scene in the “Drunkard, or The Fallen Saved” Edward Wynkoop, who acted the leading part in the play of Edward Middleton, the drunkard, introduced some new "business" that "brought the house." As Middleton he stood at the bar vainly endeavoring to raise a glass of liquor to his lips, but unable due to the violent shaking of his hand and arm, a result of a past attack of delirium tremens. Ineffectual trial after trial to raise the potent glass was made while the other characters on the stage silently watched and the hushed audience raptly gazed in expectation. Frustrated in the attempt, deeply sobbing, he dropped his head to his arms resting on the bar. What to do! Over his frame passed a violent trembling. Is that horrible monster to repeat its attack? Then forcing himself to brace up he gropingly drew from his pocket a handkerchief, took hold of one corner with his left hand spasmodically worked the cloth around back of his neck, over his right shoulder, fumblingly grasped the diagonally opposite corner and the glass with his right hand, and still fitfully shaking slowly drew the stimulant to his mouth and gulped it down. Revived, he exclaimed: “My last!" With that the audience came to its feet with thunderous applause.
* * *
Just before Company A of the First Colorado Regiment of Cavalry (“Pet Lambs") departed from Denver to stop the progress of Sibley's Texans, its captain, Wynkoop,
had his wife embroider a design in blue on the breast of a flannel shirt as scarlet as the flag’s red stripes. Red shirts were a common enough item of wearing apparel in those days among miners as well as many others. But Captain Wynkoop was wont to wear his in battle, and although the vivid color was an attractive target to the enemy he came through three fierce engagements unscathed while in the lead in the thickest of the conflicts. Foolhardy? Doubtful -- more likely defiance. At least some of the prisoners taken said they had been awed at the sight and respected his bravery. Perhaps a belief in destiny: The result did prove that he was to pass away in civil life on a bed of sickness that had no connection with warfare.
* * *
As chief of Cavalry of the Upper Arkansaw the troops under Colonel Wynkoop's command frequently settled without bloodshed hostilities of the Indians, with several tribes of whom the colonel succeeded in making lasting treaties of peace. One of these had to do with the Uncompaghre Utes; bands of whom had been committing depredations against the Mormons of Utah. These outlaw raids were stopped when head Chief Ouray, a fine specimen of manhood, peaceful, friendly to the Whites and a true statesman, entered into a treaty with Colonel Wynkoop that put his subjects at peace with their former prey. In recognition of this accomplishment Brigham Young, head of the Mormons sent a large basket of lucious peaches and grapes -- a great prize in itself, where fruit of any kind was seldom seen -- by special pony express to Colonel Wynkoop, with merely his compliments and no reason given for presenting the gift, delivered orally by the messenger.
* * *
Even previous to as well as after becoming Indian agent, Wynkoop had won the confidence, trust and respect of any of the Indian tribes, who knew him by the name the Cheyennes had applied to him, "Man Who Will Not Tell a Lie." A writer of that day in an article to his NewYork newspaper said he (Wynkoop) was considered "the best handler of the Indians that has ever been on the Arkansas." He was safe from harm among them wherever met. Once while on a military mission to old Fort Laramie he met an Arapaho Indian who warned him not to take the cut-off trail because there was a band of Comanches on the warpath camped on it. Wynkoop pretended to accept the advice, but because it would mean many more hours of travel to take the long trail rode on as he had first intended. Not far from the forks of the long and short trails he was intercepted by a sentinel and taken to the chief. In Comanche dialect he made himself known, whereupon the chief, though he and the whole band were painted and equipped for and actually on the warpath which ordinarily meant danger to all palefaces, greeted him in a brotherly way, took him to his tepee as an honored guest for the night and had a squaw serve food. The main dish was a savory stew. Wynkoop said it was the best he had ever eaten and asked what it was.
“Nice fat dog," the chief replied.
Qualms of nausea beset his guest until it was learned that the meat was prairie "dog," when it didn't seem so bad. After breakfast the next morning he left the hostile band preparing to travel south on some raid presumably against the whites.
* * *
While attending the funeral in Denver in 1865 of Captain Silas Soule of his regiment, who had been foully murdered, Colonel Wynkoop suffered an injury which at the age of fifty-five years finally effected his death. He was riding a spirited horse and when crossing Cherry creek on the Larimer street
bridge a fluttering bunch of paper on the stream bed below caused his mount to rear and fall on him, resulting in an injury to his spine, which gave him no particular trouble until twenty-six years later, when the cause of his death was traced to that apparently unimportant happening. Singularly enough his intimate friend, Kit Carson, met with a similar experience that finally caused his death. Carson in 1860 was on a hunting trip in the San Juan mountains of southwestern Jefferson Territory (afterward Colorado), and while descending a steep, gravelly slope leading his horse, the animal slipped and before Kit could throw aside the riata he became entangled in it, was drawn under the struggling brute and dragged some distance. It was one of his narrow escapes from death, but left him with an internal injury quite like that of Wynkoop. Eight years later he died, the cause being laid to the accident.
* * *
While Indian agent Colonel Wynkoop had occasion to take a number of his charges to Washington, D.C., on a matter connected with treaty matters. In the national capital he housed them in a hotel where they were given rooms on an upper floor. One day a young brave was starting to descend the stairway just as a chambermaid was passing at the bottom. The youth lost his footing and came tumbling down on the maid. Indianlike, he was ridiculed by the rest of his party, who immediately applied a nickname to him equivalent to "Young-Man-Fall-Down-Stairs-Over-Chambermaid.” Stairways being strange “critters” to the abidents of the plains, and proving to be a problem to most of the Indians, upon complaint their agent arranged with the commissioner of Indian affairs to place them in tents on a vacant lot. One day three of them came into the colonel's quarters. Very excitedly they displayed a jagged piece of what appeared to be stone of a dull blue color,:and told him it had shot down from the sky among them and buried itself in the ground, whence they had unearthed it from a depth of about a foot. Upon examination by an expert it was declared to be a meteorite somewhat smaller than one's hand. The colonel kept the specimen in his possession for some years, when finally it disappeared like many objects, some of great intrinsic and historical value, presented to him and wife by their Indian friends.
* * *
Colonel Wynkoop used to tell of an amusing incident that happened when he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. As a precaution against Indian raids it was customary to set guards along the outskirts of the post. Among the soldiers there, was an infantry regiment of enlisted Pawnee Indians. At times there would be some white and some redskin sentinels on duty. It was required of a guard when he reached the end of his beat to announce the time of night and conditions then prevailing, to be repeated by each sentinel to the next. One night an Irish soldier dutifully intoned, half past ten and all is well!” Picking it up a Pawnee in turn.called out; “Ha’f pass a-ten cent go to hell!”
* * *
On his trip to the Black Hills in 1876 Colonel Wynkoop met General G. A. Custer, with whom he had previously become intimately acquainted. Custer told him of his intentions, which later ended so tragically for him and his forces in the campaign against the Indians under Sitting Bull on the Little Big Horn. Wynkoop, who knew the situation, advised his friend against the foolhardy venture, but Custer, who was known to be a reckless “plunger" though absolutely fearless, failed to heed the warning of the colonel and former Indian agent and others who knew the conditions far better than Custer. Also, Wynkoop was in Deadwood City and actually sitting in the game with J. B. (Wild Bill) Hickok and others when Bill was killed by Jack McCall, who had come up behind Hickok and shot him in the back. McCall was later hanged for the murder in Yankton.
* * *
When Colonel Wynkoop returned to Pennsylvania from the Black Hills he brought with him what was known as a needle rifle, which he had found near Deadwood City, the barrel sticking in some mud up to the stock. He told interested friends it would effectually kill any living thing hit at a distance of a mile. Upon being doubted he proved it by sitting on his porch at Stanhope and putting a bullet through both pitches of the schoolhouse a little over a mile away. It was about this time that he and a party of friends were enthusiastically discussing the gold mines of the Black Hills and elsewhere, and the tenor of their talk was Gold! Gold! Gold! Sitting in the room attentively listening was the colonel's seven-year-old son. Suddenly he astonished the gathering by blurting out "Augh! Some day they'll find a mountain of gold; then what'll they do?"
* * *
As mentioned in the Scrapbook Colonel Ned had engaged with his brother Col. John E. Wynkoop in the blast furnace business (producing pig iron) at Stanhope, but nothing is said of what followed that venture. In 1876 congress demonetized silver and innumerable iron furnaces failed, among them the one at Stanhope, which gave an advantage to what became the steel trust, clinched as an out and out monopoly when the silver purchasing act was repealed by congress in 1892-3. Four years subsequent to this failure the colonel was appointed superintendent of a blast furnace two miles up the Susquehanna river out of Dauphin. Something had failed as yet to close this furnace, so it continued to operate for a time. One day a strange tragedy took place there. With a shriek one of the workmen, a giant of a man, during the peak-heat of a midsummer day suddenly raised a slab of anthracite coal that would take two or more ordinary men to lift, and holding it on top of his head plunged up the railway track. Several others, thinking him gone insane, followed. Ahead of them he fell prostrate. When his pursuers reached the poor man he was found to be dead from sunstroke.
* * *
As was to be expected, the furnace closed down. However, it was said operation was to be resumed as soon as the receivers arrived and Wynkoop was retained in charge. An old Pennsylvania Dutchman by the name of Abe had been one of the workmen. He suffered from ague, which was very prevalent there at the time, and took for it a remedy called Sinyodyne(?). Daily the old fellow would come to the office of the plant and ask, "Konel, haff duh disceefers come yet?" The colonel would invariably answer, "No, Abe, not yet." "Vell," Abe would languidly remark, "I guess I go home an' take my schinyedyne." That was all; and the "deceivers" never came. It was here, too, that the colonel's wife sent to another Dutch family in the neighborhood a 'possum she had baked. When their little girl brought back the empty dish she said with a bow, very politely; "Mrs. Vinekoop, my mudder say she berry much fullflies" (obliged).
* * *
This was toward the end of President Grant's second term. There was much talk about running him for a third. Fear of war if he were elected was rife. It was not so long since the civil war when soldiers were required to have good teeth in order to bite off the twisted end of the paper jackets that held the powder attached to the bullets used in the old muzz1e-loading muskets. If a man had bad teeth he escaped the draft. Afraid that he might be called, a baggage-master for the Northern-Central railroad at Dauphin had every tooth in his head extracted.
* * *
James A. Garfield was nominated by the Republican party as a candidate to succeed President Grant and the Democrats nominated General Winfield Scott Hancock. Wynkoop and Hancock had become intimately acquainted during the Indian campaigns in Kansas. It was understood between them that if Hancock was elected he would appoint Wynkoop as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, but Garfield was chosen.
* * *
Colonel Wynkoop, through at the Dauphin furnace, and family moved to Harrisburg. While there Colonel WilIiam F. Cody (Buffalo Bill), who was then acting the leading part in a western drama written by Ned Buntline, in which Indians also appeared, came to Harrisburg for a one-night stand --Christmas Eve of 1881. Wynkoop and.wife and Buffalo Bill were old friends and the former brought Cody home to supper, where he met and amused the children for the first time. Precisely one year later for another Christmas eve appearance on the stage Buffalo Bill returned to Harrisburg. In the meantime Colonel Wynkoop had been appointed Special United States Timber Agent for New Mexico, Arizona and a part of Colorado -- a position similar to that now held by a Regional Forester who superintends each district of the National forests, which had not yet been established -- by President Chester A. Arthur, successor to the president following the assassination of President Garfield. Buffalo Bill always gave a parade composed of himself on horseback, a band, a lot of Indians and other actors of his company. Two of the sons of Colonel Wynkoop and a boy friend were standing on the curb at the corner of Ridge avenue and Forster street as the parade came along. Especially to show what a memory for faces Colonel Cody possessed, when he saw the boys he had seen only once, a year ago, he beckoned them to him. As they walked along beside his horse he reached down, patted the nearest on the shoulder and said:"I saw your father a short time ago in Pueblo, Colorado (Wynkoop's temporary headquarters). I won't have time to come out and see your good mother, but I want all of you to come down to the show. I'll be at the parquet door for a short time. Mrs. Wynkoop thought it would be imposing on generosity, so sent her regards and regrets and only the two boys and their friend went and were passed in by Buffalo Bill just before he went to his dressing room to prepare for the play.
* * *
Joseph Rutledge, an operator of a sawmill, had started to unlawfully cut timber on restricted government land near Santa Fe, New Mexico, permanent headquarters of U. S. Timber Agent Wynkoop, and was ordered to desist. Rutledge called on Wynkoop and during a discussion relative to the matter the agent suddenly leaped to his feet with a deep growl and an oath, seized his visitor and bodily pitched him through the office door into San Francisco street. The colonel afterward explained that the sawmiller presumptuously offered a bribe if allowed to cut some timber in addition to that legally alloted. During his public life Colonel Wynkoop at times was subjected to similar "approaches," but never any so crassly proposed as that by the man he had shown "where to head in" (or out, as it happened). Those few who more artfully undertook to merely insinuate their purpose were quickly given to undertand that among Wynkoop's array of badges of honor above all was one across which was emblazoned in purest gold the word HONEST , and the subject at once was either changed or never resumed.
* * *
A friend and the writer were on an extended fishing and hunting trip in the Valle Grande country of New Mexico in 1883. We were running low on provisions, so, with our two burros to pack, I went to Bland, a mining camp eighteen miles distant, to stock up. There I was asking for our mail when a fine-looking, western type of man with a mustache and goatee had taken his place in
line behind me. After I gave my name, received some mail and stepped aside, this gentleman said to me: "Excuse me, but I heard your name: Are you a son of Colonel Ned Wynkoop? I told him that I was. We shook hands and he introduced himself. I am Colonel Coreyell. I used to go to school with your father in Philadelphia, where he was nicknamed 'Chicken' Wynkoop, because he invariably assumed the fights of the small boys whenever they were set on by the much bigger ones and the bullies -- we had some -- and licked them, too."
* * *
Colonel Wynkoop's favorite adage was nil desperandum, and he despaired of nothing throughout his eventful life, under many and the most adverse circumstances continuing hopeful, cheerful and and trustful. But, oh! how stern and firm he could become over any nature of injustice; or when momentous emergencies not only excused but demanded instantaneous consummation by whatever means available. Whenever a question of right or wrong arose his mind acted as though regulated by a hair trigger -- a decision being immediately reached that would accomplish a proper conclusion.
He would frequently quote "trust men and they will be true." Unfortunately, much to the disgust and sorrow of his host of true friends, but amicably accepted by the colonel though grievously disappointing, men whom he considered thoroughly trustworthy, some whom he numbered among his closest and dependable friends, most dishonorably and dissemblingly betrayed the trust placed in them time after time.
He was modest to a fault, self-abnegation ruling every endeavor. Had he been otherwise -- self-assertive -- even more credit and praise than that expressed regarding his valuable and valorous achievements would have been confered and greater advancement been his lot. In matters that might publicly attract personal attention he often was reluctant and avoided conspicuousness; and yet on memorable occasions he faced crowds with commendable self-possession, as remark his experience as an actor for charity, when his sole consciousness was that the "show must go on"; when "to save the union" he sacrificially led his regiment against a greatly outnumbering enemy on three successive occasions; when, alone, supported by only one faithful deputy, he held at bay and dispersed a raging mob intent upon taking from him as sheriff, to lynch, a prisoner in his charge, duty demanding; when as adjutant general for New Mexico he fearlessly, unarmed and unsupported, confronted a large band of furious whitecaps who had been committing outrages in San Miguel county and were threatening to demolish the courthouse and destroy certain officials cringing within, and whom he mildly persuaded to go home and disband, which they did without a single protest. He had "a way with him" that won respect and obedience among all natures of men.
"Chivalrous, fearless, adventurous, generous, typical leader, absolutely loyal, genial gentleman, noble, true as steel, kind, faithful friend, trusted, truthful, beloved, and devoted" -- were some among the many encomiums lavishly and constantly bestowed upon him, not alone after his demise, but during his days from youthfulness to the prime of life, when he passed away, too young, from among the slim ranks of whom as much might be said. Few men have been accorded equal approbation.
But a more distinctive trait than all other laudable characteristics that set Colonel Edward Wanser Wynkoop apart was that acknowledged by the press and people, whether friends or foes:--
"He was the noblest work of God,
an Honest Man."
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust Street
Wynkoop, Frank M. "Intimate Notes Relative to the Career of Colonel Edward Wynkoop", Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa. (Tucked inside photocopy edition of Richard Wynkoop's 1904 edition of Wynkoop Genealogy in the United States of America), no publisher, no date. Uncataloged.
I want to express my thanks to Louis Kraft, ([email protected]), for his help in filling in a missing piece in this paper.
Louis is the author of nine(!) terrific articles on Ned Wynkoop's life, two lectures, plus a one-man play and a novel in which Ned figures, (see the Wynkoop Bibliography page.)
Louis, I really appreciate the help.
This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any fashion without my written consent.