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The Controversial Career of Edward W. Wynkoop.
The Controversial Career of
Edward W. Wynkoop.

Published with the permission of Dr. Thomas Isern.

Ned Wynkoop and Capt. Jack Crawford.
Ned Wynkoop and Capt. Jack Crawford, ca. 1876.

Edward Wanshear Wynkoop in 1861.
Edward Wanshear Wynkoop in 1861.

The Controversial Career of Edward W. Wynkoop.



    On an autumn day in 1858 lanky Edward Wanshear [sic] Wynkoop disembarked from a sidewheel steamer in busy Leavenworth, Kansas Territory. Born on 19 June 1836 in Philadelphia, he had spent the first twenty years of his life in Pennsylvania, where his family was engaged in smelting iron. His grandfather, Henry Wynkoop, had been a member of the Continental Congress, and his great-great-great-grandfather had come from Utrecht, Holland, to settle in the New Netherlands in 1640. However, prominent lineage meant little to the restless youth. He proceeded from Leavenworth to Lecompton, the territorial capitol of Kansas, to become a clerk for his brother-in-law William Brindle, receiver of the United States Land Office in Lecompton. In Kansas the Pennsylvanian began a manifold western career filled with controversy at every stage. His character, a combination of reckless stubbornness and stern moralism, generated conflict wherever he went. Nowhere was this more true than in Colorado, where Wynkoop rose to prominence and made friendships and enmities that lasted for a lifetime. [1]
    Brindle, Wynkoop's patron in Kansas, was a fiery advocate of the divine truth of Presbyterianism and the divine right of slavery. Wynkoop shunned involvement in the sectional controversy then burning in Kansas, but from Brindle he learned about the virtues of the Democratic party and the intricacies of the real estate business, and he mastered the Colt revolver. He soon acquired political connections in Kansas, including the friendship of Governor James W. Denver, a fellow Pennsylvanian. [2]
    In the fall of 1858 reports of gold on the upper South Platte River

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posed a problem for Governor Denver. The gold fields lay in formerly unpopulated Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory, the boundaries of which extended to the Continental Divide. Denver quickly appointed a slate of county officials that included Wynkoop as sheriff. Inasmuch as he possessed a sturdy, six-foot-three-inch frame and a steady shooting eye, Wynkoop seemed well qualified to police rowdy mining camps. Also prominent among the county appointees was William H. Larimer, still another Pennsylvanian, who was to be county treasurer.
    Wynkoop and the rest of the county officials planned to found a city in the gold fields as their county seat. In September 1858 they embarked from Topeka for the mines by the Arkansas River route. Pausing only for cheers and libations at the first sight of the Spanish Peaks, they traveled quickly to Pueblo. Larimer, who had started later, overtook Wynkoop's party there. United, they traveled north, arriving at the south Platte River on 16 November. Although earlier arrivals already had founded the town of Saint Charles on the best available site, all the founders had left for the East except for a mountain man named William McGaa. With threats and whiskey the newcomers persuaded McGaa to join them and a group of Nebraskans in founding the city of Denver on the same spot. After selecting a name for the city, Wynkoop immediately became the object of two disputes: rival speculators accused him and his friends of stealing the site for Denver, while Nebraskans and Republicans denied the jurisdiction of the Kansan sheriff. [3]
    On 3 December Wynkoop and a friend, Albert B. Steinberger, left Denver to act as agents of the Denver Company in eastern Kansas. The temperature dropped to twenty degrees below zero, and Wynkoop froze his feet; nevertheless, the two survived a journey along the frozen South Platte River to Omaha, Nebraska Territory. Wynkoop then went to Lecompton, but despite his lobbying, the legislature chose to issue a charter to the Saint Charles Company rather than to the Denver Company. Wynkoop imposed himself as a partner in the Saint Charles Company, however, and since the legislature of Kansas never established meaningful authority over the gold fields, the Denver Company kept control of their town site by simple occupation. [4]
    While in eastern Kansas and Nebraska, Wynkoop told eager crowds exaggerated tales of golden wealth to be found along the South Platte River. These stories returned to haunt him when in April 1859 he again

Edward W. Wynkoop 3

started west from Lecompton, this time leading a wagon train of emigrants who had paid $100 each for passage to the mines. Along the way he met thousands of disillusioned miners who were returning because they had found no paying mines. Wynkoop was threatened with hanging by emigrants who said he had deceived them. Fortunately, by the time he reached Denver, new strikes in the mountains had restored confidence in the mines. [5]
    For two years thereafter Wynkoop attempted to act as sheriff of Arapahoe County, despite the existence of a rival provisional government under the name of Jefferson Territory. When on 9 October 1859 William Park McClure and Richard E. Whitsitt prepared to fight a duel on the banks of Cherry Creek, Wynkoop called on assembled spectators to help prevent bloodshed, for McClure was his close friend. The crowd ignored the sheriff's appeal, whereupon Whitsitt seriously wounded McClure. [6]
    Wynkoop found it even more difficult to exert authority after the town fathers of Denver formed an independent city government in the late 1860s. On 12 March 1861 he intervened in a fight in the Saint Charles Saloon between Mark "Buckskin" Widgenstein and Thomas Evans, a gambler. As Evans wounded Widgenstein with a knife, Wynkoop struck the gambler on the head with his revolver. The scuffle spilled into the street; Widgenstein seized a pistol. Wynkoop leaped aside, and Widgenstein fired, killing a Black bystander. City Marshal James R. Shaffer arrived to arrest the fighters as Wynkoop stood by. [7]
    Wynkoop more readily assumed jurisdiction in cases that extended beyond the city limits of Denver. In late November of 1860 a rumor was circulated that Thomas Evans had abducted Mademoiselle Haydee, a popular actress. Wynkoop pursued them and brought them back, but to his embarrassment, the woman revealed that she and Evans had been married. [8]
    More sobering duties stemmed from the case of an Irishman named Patrick Waters. Waters was riding along the South Platte River in a wagon with Thomas Freeman, a rancher, when suddenly he emptied a shotgun into Freeman's head, took the money from his pockets, and fled eastward on horseback. W. T. Shortridge, a deputy of Wynkoop,

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brought the killer back from eastern Nebraska. The Masonic Lodge brothers of Freeman demanded revenge of Waters, a Catholic. A dozen men led by Charles Harrison, another Mason and the proprietor of the Criterion Saloon, conducted Waters to the scene of the crime and put a rope around his neck. Wynkoop would not allow a lynching, but they did extract a confession. Following a people's trial, Wynkoop and a few deputies hung the offender from a gallows in front of the Criterion Saloon. [9]
    On one occasion Wynkoop openly defied the city government. His friend McClure, by then recovered from his duel with Whitsitt, was arrested by a city deputy on 2 November 1860 for threatening the life of O. J. Goldrick. McClure refused to post bond to ensure good behavior and stalked out of the municipal court, only to be arrested again and placed under heavy guard in a room above a store. At 3:00 A.M. a deputy heard a knock on the door and opened it. In rushed twenty men led by Wynkoop, and as they stormed up the stairs, city deputies dove from the windows. The intruders carried McClure to sanctuary in the Criterion Saloon. Wynkoop insisted that as county sheriff, he merely had assumed the custody of the prisoner, but he later arranged for McClure to post bond. [10]
    Unable to defeat the city government, Wynkoop resolved to join it. On 5 April 1861 he ran for sheriff on the Workingman's Independent Ticket. During the election day his unruly supporters stuffed the ballot boxes. In a second election the next day, friends of Wynkoop tilled the streets, displaying banners, beating drums, and intimidating opponents. Although Wynkoop repudiated the "palpable outrages" of the day before, Shaffer won the election. [11]
    Wynkoop was also involved in other public controversies. Early in 1860 two companies of militia were organized. Joining both, Wynkoop was a first lieutenant of the Denver Cavalry and a second lieutenant of the Jefferson Rangers. The Jefferson Rangers went into action on 30 January after a group of men known as the Bummers, suspected of robbing a farmer's wagon of a cargo of turkeys, took to the streets and terrorized citizens. Wynkoop led the rangers to the scene to restore order, ending the Turkey War. [12]
    Personal as well as public conflicts swirled around Wynkoop. On 7 March 1860 he served as second for Lucian W. Bliss, acting governor of Jefferson Territory, who mortally wounded Dr. J. S. Stone with a shotgun in a duel. [13] Wynkoop himself nearly became a duelist in De-

Edward W. Wynkoop 5

cember 1860 following a dispute with his friend McClure, then postmaster of Denver. Wynkoop entered the post office and requested his mail, but McClure refused to release it because Wynkoop had not paid the rent on his postbox. Wynkoop promptly wrote out a challenge, and McClure reluctantly accepted. The terms specified were rifles at sixty paces, and the duel was to occur ten days later on Stout Street. Target practice occupied Wynkoop's time for the next few days, and at sixty paces he became deadly accurate. A lady friend of McClure reportedly said, "Mackey, you're a dead duck if you face that Kansas Jayhawker!" Both antagonists came to Stout Street at the appointed time, as an expectant crowd gathered. On reaching the field of honor, McClure had second thoughts and apologized to Wynkoop. The two left together, friends again. [14]
    The most controversial incident in which Wynkoop was involved was the killing of James Hill by Charles Harrison on 2 December 1860. That afternoon Wynkoop had broken up a vicious brawl between two Texans and barely had prevented Harrison from shooting one of them. Earlier, Wynkoop had quarreled with Hill, and Hill had been boasting that he was going to whip the sheriff. Hill was drunk when he entered the Criterion Saloon and began to taunt Wynkoop, who called him a liar. Both men drew pistols and waved them about, whereupon Harrison interrupted and led Hill away to the bar. To prevent bloodshed, the bartender tried to take Hill outside but was unsuccessful. Harrison drew his pistol and fired four shots, filling the room with smoke and mortally wounding Hill. Brought to trial before a people's court, Harrison pleaded that the killing was justifiable homicide. After hearing Wynkoop and other witnesses, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. [15]
    Even cultural initiatives produced disputes. In early 1861 Wynkoop was elected president of the Denver Amateur Dramatic Association, which staged five productions for the benefit of the poor. Wynkoop starred in several dramas. His most acclaimed role was the lead in The Drunkard, in which his portrayal of the delerium tremens brought cheers and curtain calls. No doubt the crowd's enthusiasm derived partially from the common knowledge that Wynkoop was no more averse to taking a drink off the stage than on it. After making considerable donations to the poor, the association became insolvent and was the recipient of unfounded allegations of misappropriation of funds by its officials. [16]
    Wynkoop's acting experience was sweetened by an acquaintance with Louise Wakely, a professional actress. She had numerous admirers, but none could match Wynkoop's dashing bearing. On 21 August

Louise Wakely, a successful actress.
Louise Wakely, a successful actress, chose to marry Wynkoop from among her many suitors.
1861 they were married and their family grew to include eight children, two of them born in Colorado. Louise Wynkoop, a woman of dauntless spirit, accompanied her husband to a series of outposts on the frontier. [17] Wynkoop was twenty-five-years-old at the time of his marriage. He already had shown capacity for leadership but also a lack of sound judgment. He was popular, but he kept poor company. During the next few years his character matured under the pressure of responsibility.
    As the Civil War began, Wynkoop was an early recruit in the First Colorado Volunteer Infantry Regiment, receiving a commission as a second lieutenant on 31 March 1861. Soon afterward he was made captain of Company A. As the regiment grew, it went into quarters at Camp Weld, two miles from Denver. Wynkoop founded the Camp Weld Dramatic Association, which staged several productions in the spring of l862. [18]
    The young captain also participated in regimental politics. A Confederate army under Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley was pushing into New Mexico, capturing Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Wynkoop and most of the other officers in the First Colorado believed that

Edward W. Wynkoop 7

their colonel. John P. Slough, was delaying their assignment to New Mexico. On 5 February 1862 Wynkoop drafted a petition from the officers to Slough asking to be sent to New Mexico. "We consider that we have the right," he wrote, "to demand this of you." On 22 February the regiment marched for New Mexico. [19]
    Traveling rapidly, the regiment reached Fort Union, New Mexico, in fourteen days. The volunteers then pushed on to the eastern entrance of Glorietta Pass, the gateway to Santa Fe. Slough sent Major John M. Chivington ahead with 480 picked men in an attempt to surprise the Confederates. On 26 March they met the enemy's advance under Colonel Richard Scurry at Apache Canyon. Wynkoop led a detachment of 120 men to the left canyon wall and flanked the Confederate battery. His men brought accurate fire on the artillerymen, forcing them to retreat twice. As a mounted company charged the battery, Wynkoop's men descended from the heights to capture numerous prisoners. [20]
    Two days later, while Slough and most of his troops engaged the Confederate army at Pigeon Ranch, Chivington and 430 men struck across country and gained the Confederates' rear. They found the enemy's supply train of eighty wagons guarded by only 200 men and a field piece. While Chivington and most of his troops destroyed the train, Wynkoop, with thirty marksmen, successfully picked off the enemy artillerymen and captured the cannon. Chivington's tactical success gave the victory to the Coloradoans, as the Confederates began a retreat southward out of New Mexico. The First Colorado and Wynkoop took part in another minor engagement, the Battle of Peralta, during this retreat. [21]
    The success of the volunteers was tinged with bitterness. Slough resigned as colonel because of threats on his life by his men. Chivington was promoted to colonel, Wynkoop to major. Wynkoop remained on detached service in New Mexico until the fall of 1862. During his stay there he became friends with the staunch Unionist from Taos, Christopher "Kit" Carson. Louise Wynkoop endeared herself to wounded soldiers by frequent visits to the hospitals. [22]
    Wynkoop found a hero's welcome when he returned to Camp Weld, where he remained until the summer of 1863. His fellow officers gathered one night at the Planters House Hotel in Denver to present him

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with a sword. On another occasion citizens visited Camp Weld to give him a fine strawberry roan horse. Touched, Wynkoop pledged that if he should die in battle, "he desired no better epitaph than 'He was a Coloradoan.'" [23]
    Wynkoop also began to realize the importance of politics and gradually converted to the Republican party. He supported the organization of the Union party in Colorado. Unable to attend its convention on 20 February 1863, he sent a rousing address signed by himself and other Democratic officers. He denounced all Democrats who did not support the war, warning, "The man who talks peace, while one Traitor lives, is himself a Traitor." [24]
    In late June 1863 Wynkoop again left Denver. With five companies of the First Colorado, by this time converted to cavalry, he traveled west on the Overland Mail Route to campaign against the Ute. The troops rode north and west to Fort Halleck and established a camp perhaps eighty miles southwest of there. Chivington joined Wynkoop in camp on 27 July and ordered Wynkoop to choose 150 men to search out the Ute. Unfortunately, his guide was a well-known mountaineer named Jack Jones, who proved to be no help at all. The striking force crossed North Park and rode to the southwest. From there on Wynkoop was lost, but he continued traveling south and west until rations ran out, never overtaking the Ute. The soldiers returned to Denver after a tortuous and fruitless trek, but Brigham Young of Utah appreciated Wynkoop's efforts enough to send him a basket of fruit. [25]
    Wynkoop performed routine duties at Camp Weld until he was sent to take command at Fort Lyon, arriving there on 8 May 1864. When another Union party convention prepared to meet in July, Wynkoop assembled his five companies of the First Colorado at Fort Lyon to elect a delegate. Wynkoop presided over the soldiers' meeting, and although a motion to send a representative was contested hotly, his will prevailed and the motion passed. [26]
    Controversy over Indian affairs soon eclipsed conflict over politics. Thefts of stock by Indians in the South Platte and Arkansas river valleys prompted attacks by the First Colorado on villages of Cheyenne and Arapaho. The Indians in turn made murderous raids on outlying ranches and stations. At Fort Lyon, Wynkoop had orders from Chivington to kill all Indians on sight. On 7 August he took eighty of his men in pursuit of the Kiowa who had attacked a wagon train and nearby homes. After two days in the saddle, the soldiers returned discouraged to Fort Lyon.

Edward W. Wynkoop 9

Wynkoop pleaded with Chivington for reinforcements to wage a major campaign.
    Wynkoop was angered further a few days later when two soldiers were killed outside of the fort and a sergeant was pursued until he was within sight of the post. The major sent three separate detachments of troops after the Indians, and finally he left the fort with cavalry and a battery. After they had gone only a few miles a thunderstorm arose; the soldiers were lost until they found Sand Creek. Returning to the fort, a frustrated Wynkoop wrote to Chivington that "at all events, it is my intention to kill all Indians I may come across until I receive orders to the contrary from headquarters." [27]
    On 3 September 1864 an event occurred that began to change Wynkoop's opinions about Indians. A party of soldiers brought three Cheyenne to Fort Lyon to see Wynkoop, who angrily reminded the troops that his orders were to kill all Indians seen. Wynkoop then read the letters given him by One-eye, the spokesman--missives written on behalf of Chief Black Kettle and the other Cheyenne and Arapaho by a half-breed in their camp. The letters requested a council of peace and offered to release their seven white captives. Amazed at the Indians' courage in approaching the soldiers, Wynkoop agreed to go to the Cheyenne and Arapaho camp on the Smoky Hill River. Other officers at the post considered this foolhardy, but Wynkoop left the fort with 130 cavalrymen, taking the Indian emissaries as hostages. Four days of travel brought the soldiers to the Cheyenne camp, where they were met by over six hundred mounted warriors. A tense confrontation was relieved when Wynkoop sent One-eye to tell the warriors that he had come to talk. After conferring with the chiefs, Wynkoop took his men into a nearby camp. [28]
    Late the next morning some sixty Indians entered the soldiers' camp for a council. Wynkoop called on them to turn over any prisoners they held but told them that he did not have the authority to make peace with them. The exchange then became heated, as spokesmen for the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers accused Wynkoop of negotiating in bad faith. An excited speech by One-eye and a reasoned address by Black Kettle quieted the firebrands. Wynkoop led his men into a defensible camp twelve miles away, while the Indians decided whether to accompany him to Denver for a council with Chivington and John Evans, the territorial governor.
    During the meeting numerous warriors had come into the soldiers' camp and poked about curiously, nearly provoking a fight with the nervous troops. After Wynkoop had established the new camp, a group

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of soldiers, fearing treachery, demanded that they return to Fort Lyon. Wynkoop allayed their fears with an account of the council meeting. The next morning all mutiny dissolved, for a party delivered a white captive, seventeen-year-old Laura Roper. A day later Wynkoop rode out to meet Black Kettle, who brought three white children, two boys and a girl. This gesture completed Wynkoop's change of attitude toward the Indians, as in tears he rode off with the little girl in his arms. [29]
    The soldiers and a delegation of seven chiefs rode back to Fort Lyon. Wynkoop then accompanied the chiefs to Denver, where they received a chilly reception. In a meeting at Camp Weld, Evans and Chivington refused to offer terms to the Indians, telling them that their only recourse was to surrender to Wynkoop at Fort Lyon. [30] Wynkoop returned to his post, the chiefs to their people, but soon the Arapaho encamped peaceably near Fort Lyon, visiting the post in small numbers and receiving rations. Reports reached Major General Samuel Curtis, commanding the Department of Kansas, that Wynkoop was allowing the Indians dangerous privileges. On 2 November 1864 Major Scott Anthony of the First Colorado arrived at Fort Lyon and relieved Wynkoop of command. Several days later Black Kettle brought the Cheyenne to the fort. In a council with Wynkoop present, Anthony told them to give up their arms and camp on Sand Creek, twenty-five miles north, along with the Arapaho. Wynkoop left Fort Lyon on 26 November to report to the headquarters of the District of the Upper Arkansas at Fort Riley, Kansas. With him he carried a letter from citizens of the Arkansas River valley thanking him for pacifying the Indians and an affidavit from all the officers at Fort Lyon, including Anthony, stating their approval of his course with the Indians. [31]
    Thus, it came as a shock to Wynkoop, en route eastward, to learn that two days after his departure, Chivington had attacked the Indians on Sand Creek. Wynkoop displayed his old temper in a fit of rage when he heard that Chivington had led troops from the Third Colorado Hundred-day Regiment and the First Colorado in killing perhaps two hundred Indians, violating the pledges of safety by Wynkoop and Anthony. Later, in a testy interview with General Curtis, Wynkoop defended his policies, and as the facts of the engagement at Sand Creek sifted eastward, he appeared vindicated. He was ordered back to Fort Lyon to investigate the affair. Arriving on 14 January 1865, he set to his

Edward W. Wynkoop 11

task with energy. His report labeled Chivington an "inhuman monster" and announced that all efforts for peace had been spoiled. [32]
    This was only the first of a series of investigations, in each of which Wynkoop's actions were approved and praised. Nevertheless, Chivington and his friends waged a concerted campaign to discredit Wynkoop. A report of the congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War harshly condemned Chivington and Evans, as did the report of the joint special committee on Indian affairs, generally known as the Doolittle Committee. Three congressmen of this committee visited Colorado and were led by Wynkoop on a grisly tour of the battlefield at Sand Creek. In his deposition for them, the major accused Chivington and Evans of prolonging hostilities with the Indians for commercial and political gain. [33]
    The most thorough inquiry was a military investigation presided over by Samuel F. Tappan, lieutenant colonel of the First Colorado. The first witness before the investigative commission, Captain Silas Soule, had accompanied Wynkoop to the village on the Smoky Hill and had refused Chivington's orders to attack at Sand Creek. For his testimony against Chivington, Soule was shot and killed in an ambush in Denver. While attending Soule's funeral, Wynkoop fell from his spirited horse and suffered painful back injuries. [34]
    Wynkoop testified before Tappan's commission from 20 to 24 March 1865. Chivington was allowed great liberties in cross-examining his antagonist. Chivington fired rapid and intimidating questions, which Wynkoop fended off with curt replies. Witnesses called by Chivington then tried to show that Wynkoop was a drunk, that he had endangered his command on the Smoky Hill, and that he had disobeyed orders by leaving Fort Lyon. Chivington's allies carried the fight into the press with libelous letters. [35]
    Wynkoop became the most hated man in Colorado Territory, for most residents endorsed Chivington's actions, but his fearless testimony won the respect of military officers and federal officials who repudiated Chivington's brutality. Wynkoop and other Colorado Volunteers who re-enlisted made up the Veteran Battalion of Colorado Cavalry, of which he was appointed commander. On 17 June 1865 he also was made chief of cavalry for the District of the Upper Arkansas. [36]

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    In the fall Wynkoop left Fort Lyon to command the cavalry escort for a commission sent to counsel with the Indians of the southern plains. The commissioners, including Kit Carson, met with the tribes from 12 to 24 October on the Little Arkansas River in southern Kansas. Wynkoop expected the Cheyenne and Arapaho to blame him for the attack at Sand Creek, but instead they greeted him with joy and respect, requesting the "Tall Chief" be appointed their agent. The commissioners and the tribes concluded a treaty in which the Indians agreed to reside south of the Arkansas River and keep off the main routes of travel. [37]
    Not all of the Cheyenne were present, however, and the only person deemed capable of securing the signatures of the recalcitrant ones was Wynkoop. In December, although still in the army, he reported in Washington, D.C., to the secretary of the interior for assignment on detached service. Then he returned to Kansas, traveling to Fort Larned by ambulance for horseback riding was painful to him since his fall at Soule's funeral. From Fort Larned he traveled to Bluff Creek, twenty-five miles south of Fort Dodge, where the Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne were encamped. With him were a detachment of cavalry and a train of goods as well as his brother George. He distributed gifts on 28 February 1866 and held a council the next day, although threatened with death by the son of Porcupine Bear, a warrior killed at Sand Creek. All of the men present agreed to the treaty after Wynkoop explained it, except Young Porcupine Bear, who sat silent when it was his turn to sign. Suddenly, he leaped to his feet, as Wynkoop clutched at his pistol--but he had risen only to sign the paper. Inside Wynkoop's tent lay his brother with a rifle trained on Young Porcupine Bear's heart. A second conference on Wood Creek on 4 April brought other elements of the belligerent Cheyenne to terms. [38]
    Wynkoop then traveled to Washington, D.C., only to be sent back to Kansas once more. This time he was to explain to the Cheyenne that the annuities promised them in the Treaty of the Little Arkansas were late because of delays in congressional appropriations. Wynkoop accomplished his mission at a council at Fort Ellsworth, Kansas, on 11 August. [39]
    Having resigned his commission in July, Wynkoop returned to

Ned Wynkoop and Dick Curtis-chw.
Edward Wynkoop and his interpreter, John S. Smith, were sketched by Theodore R. Davis, artist and correspondent for Harper's Weekly, during General Winfield Scott Hancock's expedition in Kansas in 1867. The sketch appeared in Harper's Weekly on 11 May 1867.
Washington, D.C., and posted bond to become the regular agent to the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Plains Apache. Once back in Kansas he cooperated with two more special agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent to gain the tribes' acceptance of amendments to the treaty. Their earlier efforts had failed, but with Wynkoop present in a council at Fort Zarah on 13 and 14 November, they obtained the necessary signatures. Wynkoop established his agency at Fort Larned in order to be close to the tribes. He traveled constantly from there, delivering annuities and visiting, reporting that they were perfectly peaceful. [40]
    Wynkoop, therefore, anticipated no trouble when in March 1867 Major General Winfield Scott Hancock informed him that he intended to conduct a military expedition along the Arkansas River. Hancock

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pledged that he was not seeking war and that he would cooperate with Indian agents. The course that Hancock followed, however, could not have been better calculated to initiate hostilities. His fourteen hundred troopers marched from Fort Riley to Fort Larned, while Wynkoop summoned Cheyenne leaders to talk with Hancock there. The general insisted on holding the interview at night, contrary to the Indians' custom, on 12 April. Then he decided to march his command to the Indians' village twenty-five miles west on Pawnee Fork, despite Wynkoop's warnings that this would frighten them, especially those who remembered the attack at Sand Creek. As Hancock's men approached the village, the women and children fled, while the warriors drew up in line of battle before the soldiers. Wynkoop rode forward to parley and arranged for Hancock to talk with the men of the tribe, including the audacious Roman Nose. Those Indians who were sent after the fleeing women and children were unable to stop them. While the soldiers camped near the village, the warriors left to join their families. Several days later Hancock learned from Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, whom he had sent after them, that tribesmen had raided stations in the Smoky Hill valley. Hancock then burned the abandoned village in retribution. [41]
    For months after the incident, Wynkoop and Hancock engaged in a battle of correspondence with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of War, and the national press. Wynkoop charged that Hancock had provoked a new conflict by needlessly frightening the tribes and wantonly burning their village. In the village had been found a girl who had been raped and who later died; Wynkoop said the girl was an Indian and that she had been raped by soldiers, but Hancock asserted she was white and had been outraged by the Indians. The dispute heaped fuel on the fight already burning between the Department of the Interior and the Department of War for control of Indian affairs. [42]
    The Indians whom Wynkoop had worked so hard to pacify scattered across Kansas and Nebraska, raiding settlements. Wynkoop hoped for a new solution to the hostilities in October 1867 when another commission came to Kansas to investigate the causes of conflict and negotiate a treaty of peace. Meeting with the Indians of the southern plains at Medicine Lodge Creek in southern Kansas, the commissioners heard testimony verifying Wynkoop's account of how hostilities had commenced and confirming that the raped girl in the village had been an Indian. The commission went on to negotiate new treaties with the

Night Council with the Cheyenne.
General Hancock held a council with the Cheyenne at Fort Larned on 12 April 1867 at night, contrary to Wynkoop's wishes and the Cheyenne's custom. After Hancock learned that the Cheyenne had attacked stations in the Smoky Hill valley, he ordered their village on Pawnee Fork burned in retaliation.
Burning of the Pawnee Fork village.

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tribes. Although the Indians of his agency signed the treaty, it became clear that Wynkoop had lost the confidence of the more belligerent elements of the Cheyenne. At one point he had to leave the conference because of threats on his life by Roman Nose. [43]
    Despite the new treaty, the Cheyenne raided extensively during the next year. Wynkoop's superiors therefore ordered him to gather all of the peaceful tribes at Fort Cobb, Indian Territory, while soldiers chastised the hostiles. When Wynkoop learned that four columns of troops were to be campaigning in the area of Fort Cobb and that some of them would be militia rather than regular troops, he feared another massacre similar to Sand Creek. He refused to be a party to gathering the tribes together in a place where they might be slaughtered. He resigned as agent on 29 November 1868 and went to Pennsylvania. Unknown to him, Custer already had confirmed his apprehensions by attacking the village of Black Kettle on the Washita River. [44]
    One month later Wynkoop addressed a special meeting of the United States Indian Commission, a humanitarian organization, at the Cooper Institute in New York. He repeated his old charges against Chivington and Hancock and explained the circumstances of his resignation. In 1869 the Indian Commission supported Wynkoop in an unsuccessful bid for appointment as commissioner of Indian Affairs. Back in Pennsylvania again, Wynkoop operated an iron foundry with his brother, John, until their business failed in the Panic of 1873. He then applied for the agency to the Navajo but was refused, despite the endorsement of the Indian Commission. [45]
    Wynkoop then joined the gold rush to the Black Hills. By way of Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming, he traveled to Custer, Dakota Territory, in March 1876. His party skirmished with the Sioux and traveled over the battlefield on the Rosebud River where the Sioux recently had defeated the army of Brigadier General George Crook. The citizens of Custer were frightened by the Indians, so Wynkoop organized a company of volunteers called the Black Hills Rangers, of which he was elected captain. The second officer was Captain Jack Crawford, a dandy known as the Poet Scout of the Plains. After a few brushes with the Sioux, Wynkoop departed for better diggings at Deadwood. For uncertain reasons, he soon returned to Pennsylvania, where he delivered a

Edward W. Wynkoop 17

glowing report about prospects in the mines. He never went back, and for the next few years, he held a series of jobs. [46]
    In 1882 Wynkoop re-entered public service. Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado had been appointed secretary of the interior, and he obtained for Wynkoop an appointment as a special timber agent for the United States Land Office in Denver, responsible for the prevention of illegal cutting of timber on government lands. The Wynkoops moved to Denver, but only for a short time. In 1883 he was appointed to the same position in Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory, a position he held until 1886 when he was removed after the Democrats captured the presidency. By this time he was investing his money in mining stocks, chronicling his adventures in magazine articles, and devoting his time to veterans' organizations. [47]
    Wynkoop was elected commander of the Carleton Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1883. On 22 February 1884 he was elected commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of New Mexico, at the first annual encampment of the department. The greatest accomplishment of his year in office was the erection of a marble memorial to Kit Carson in Santa Fe on Memorial Day, 1885, along with a tablet on his grave in Taos. [48]
    The return of the Republicans to power in 1889 brought Wynkoop an appointment as adjutant general of the New Mexican territorial militia. Taking office on 2 December 1889, he served only until 1 April 1890. During this time his chief task was the suppression of bands of night riding fence cutters. [49]
    Wynkoop left this post to accept an appointment as warden of the territorial penitentiary, a position he long had sought. There he effected great improvements, constructing a hospital and sewers and planting a large garden. Louise Wynkoop was a competent matron for the institution.
    In 1891 Wynkoop faced the final two battles of his life-and lost both of them. The first was political. Wynkoop ran afoul of the wheels of patronage by protesting the interference of the territorial prison board in hiring and firing employees at the penitentiary. Within a year the board removed him as warden, although admitting the removal was for no malfeasance. [50]
    The second was physical. Wynkoop no longer was the sturdy youth who had crossed the plains to Pikes Peak and brawled in the saloons of Denver. His luxuriant hair had thinned considerably; his trim waist had

18 THE COLORADO MAGAZINE 56/1 and 2 1979

expanded measurably. He became critically ill with Bright's disease, an ailment of the kidneys that stemmed from his fall at Soule's funeral twenty-five years earlier. Wynkoop died on 11 September 1891 at the age of fifty-five. After his death, his family moved to Denver. Ironically, when Louise Wynkoop had difficulty obtaining her widow's pension, it was John Chivington who expedited her claim with a letter to the United States Pension Agency. [51]
    Moralism and mobility characterized the controversial career of Edward Wynkoop. The impetuous sense of honor he displayed as a youth matured into incorruptibility and independence. Wynkoop refused to compromise or to hide his opinions about public affairs, especially in regard to the Cheyenne and the Arapaho. He never hesitated to defy public opinion or powerful opponents in performance of what he believed was his duty. Seldom tactful, he was quick to condemn those who he thought were guilty of wrongdoing. This stubbornness caused him to move frequently, for in no place could he live peaceably for long. Wherever he went he encountered friends, enemies, and problems from his years in Colorado, the place that he always considered his home.
    Wynkoop's career in the West seemed to touch every major event that arose during his times--the slavery issue in Kansas, the gold rush to Pikes Peak, the quelling of the rebellion, the conquest of the Plains tribes, the gold rush to the Black Hills, and the flowering of western politics. All these phenomena were horizontal threads that stretched tautly across Colorado and the West. People like Wynkoop were filaments that wove crosswise into the threads, illustrating the continuity among them.

THOMAS D. ISERN is a visiting assistant professor of history at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Formerly, he was an instructor of history at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and executive director of the Adams County Historical Society in Hastings, Nebraska. A member of the Western History Association, the Agricultural History Society, and other professional groups, he received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in 1975 and 1977, respectively. He has published articles in several historical journals.
118 THE COLORADO MAGAZINE 56/1 and 2 1979


    Cover, courtesy of the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; frontispiece, 6, Documentary Resources Department, Colorado Historical Society, Denver (CHS); 13, HARPER'S WEEKLY, 11 May 1867, courtesy of Thomas D. Isern; 15, (Hancock in council) FRANK LESLIE'S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER, 11 May 1867, HARPER'S WEEKLY, 8 June 1867, courtesy of Isern.


    1. Edward W. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," 1876. p. 1. Documentary Resources Department, Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Frank M. Wynkoop, "Intimate Notes Relative to the Career of Colonel Edward Wynkoop, "Edward W. Wynkoop Collection, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Joseph M. Beatty, Jr., ed., "Letters of Judge Henry Wynkoop, Representative from Pennsylvania to the First Congress of the United States," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 38 (1914): 39. [Back]

    2. Albert R. Greene, "United States Land-Offices in Kansas," Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society 8 (1903-1904): 4-6; Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 1-5. [Back]

    3. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 5-10; Edward E. Wynkoop, "Edward Wanshear Wynkoop," Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society 13 (1913-1914): 71-72; William H. H. Larimer, Reminiscences of General William Larimer and of his Son William H. H. Larimer. Two of the Founders of Denver City, comp. Herman S. Davis (Lancaster, Pa.: New Era Printing Co., 1918), pp. 77-102; Calvin W. Gower, "Kansas Territory and the Pikes Peak Gold Rush: Governing the Gold Region," Kansas Historical Quarterly 32. no. 3 (Autumn 1966): 290-97; William McGaa, "A Statement Regarding the Formation of the St. Charles and Denver Town Companies," The Colorado Magazine 22, no. 3 (May 1945): 125-29. [Back]

    4. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 10-14; Omaha Times, 6 January 1859; Denver Rocky Mountain News, 18 April 1860. [Back]

    5. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," p. 15; LeRoy R. Hafen. ed., Colorado Gold Rush: Contemporary Letters and Reports, 1858-1859, Southwest Historical Series, no. 10 (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1941), pp. 271-72. [Back]

    6. Denver Rocky Mountain News, 27 October 1859; Unidentified clippings, Scrapbook, Edward W. Wynkoop Collection. This scrapbook in the Museum of New Mexico contains more than three hundred pages of clippings dealing with Wynkoop's life and related events. The clippings are pasted on blank shares of stock in the Denver Town Company. Some clippings are from early Colorado newspapers of which files have not survived. [Back]

    7. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    8. Denver Rocky Mountain News, 28 November 1860; Melvin Schoberlin, From Candles to Footlights: A Biography of the Pikes Peak Theatre, 1859-1876, (Denver: Old West Publishing Co., 1941), pp. 38-39. [Back]

    9. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    10. Ibid. [Back]

    11. Ibid. [Back]

    12. Ibid.; J. E. Wharton, History of the City of Denver: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Denver: Byers and Dailey, 1866), pp. 47-51. [Back]

    13. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    14. Ibid.; Denver Interocean 5. no. 9 (11 March 1882): 136. [Back]

    15. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    16. Clippings and playbills, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    17. Frank M. Wynkoop, "Commemoration, Mrs. Edward W. Wynkoop," Wynkoop Collection; Edward W. Wynkoop, Pension, Veteran's Records, General Services Administration, National Archives, Washington, D.C. [Back]

    18. Edward W. Wynkoop, Military, Veteran Records, General Services Administration, National Archives; Denver Weekly Republican and Rocky Mountain Herald, 13 February 1862; Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    19. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    20. U. S. Department of War, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series no. 1. 55 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1902), 9:530-32; Ovando J. Hollister, Boldly They Rode: A History of the First Colorado Regiment of Volunteers (1863; reprint ed., Lakewood, Colo.: Golden Press, 1949), pp. 45-67. [Back]

    21. War of the Rebellion, 9:532-45; Hollister, Boldly They Rode,: pp. 68-97. [Back]

    22. Arthur A. Wright, "Colonel John P. Slough and the New Mexico Campaign, 1862," The Colorado Magazine 39, no. 2 (April 1962): 100-104; Edward W. Wynkoop, Military, Veteran's Records; Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 20-23. [Back]

    23. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    24. Ibid. [Back]

    25. Ibid.; War of the Rebellion, 22, pt. 2:368-71; F. M. Wynkoop, "Intimate Notes," p. 2. [Back]

    26. War of the Rebellion, 34. pt. 3:531-32; Edward W. Wynkoop, Military, Veterans Records; Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    27. War of the Rebellion, 34, pt. 4:151; 41, pt. 2:735; 41, pt. 1:231-32, 237-40. [Back]

    28. War of the Rebellion, 31, pt. 3:242-43; Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 28-31. [Back]

    29. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 31-35; U.S., Congress, Senate, Committee on Indian Affairs, Sand Creek Massacre, 39th Cong., 2d sess., 4 February 1867, S. Exec. Doc. 26. pp. 16-19, 29-34, 84-89, 96-102 (hereinafter cited as S. Exec. Doc. 26). [Back]

    30. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," p. 37; Denver Rocky Mountain News, 29 September 1864; S. Exec. Doc. 26, pp. 9, 11, 18-19, 39-45, 86. [Back]

    31. War of the Rebellion, vol. 41, pt. 1, pp. 912-14, 959-60; S. Exec. Doc. 26, pp. 86-87, 92-95. [Back]

    32. War of the Rebellion, vol. 41, pt. 1, pp. 960-62; S. Exec. Doc. 26, p. 92. [Back]

    33. U.S., Congress, Senate, Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Massacre of Cheyenne Indians, 38th Cong., 2d sess, 1865, S. Rept. 142, 4, pt. 3:i-108; U. S., Congress, Senate, Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Condition of the Indian Tribes, 39th Cong., 2d sess., 1865, S. Rept. 156, pp. 26-98. [Back]

    34. F. M. Wynkoop, "Intimate Notes," pp. 2-3; S. Exec. Doc. 26, pp. 8-29. [Back]

    35. S. Exec. Doc. 26, pp. 83-103. [Back]

    36. Edward W. Wynkoop, Military, Veteran's Records; Special Orders 162, Department of the Missouri, 17 June, 1865, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    37. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 46-48; U.S., Congress, House, Commissioners of Council with Arapahoes and Cheyennes, Treaties with Arapahoes, Cheyennes. & c., 39th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Exec. Doc. l, pp. 699-720. [Back]

    38. Wynkoop, "Unfinished Colorado History," pp. 48-50; Wynkoop to John Pope, 2 March 1866, Wynkoop in Pope, 5 April 1866, Letters Received, Office of Indian Affairs, Upper Arkansas Agency, Microfilm Series 234, Roll 879, General Services Administration, National Archives; G.A. Gordon to Assistant Adjutant General, District of Kansas, 5 March 1866, Wynkoop to D.N. Cooley, 8 April 1866, 39th Cong., 2d sess., 1866, H. Exec. Doc. l, pp. 277-78. [Back]

    39. Jason Harlan to Cooley, 25 July 1886, Wynkoop to Cooley, 11 August 1866, Letters Received, Office of Indian Affairs, Upper Arkansas Agency; Cooley to Wynkoop, 25 July 1866, Wynkoop to Cooley, 14 August 1866, 39th Cong., 2d sess., H. Exec. Doc. 1, pp. 278-79. [Back]

    40. Wynkoop to Cooley, 27 October, W.R. Irwin to Lewis Bogy, 3 November 1866, Charles Bogy and W.R. Irwin to Lewis Bogy, 12 November 1866, Wynkoop to Thomas Murphy, 2 December 1866, Letters Received, Office of Indian Affairs, Upper Arkansas Agency. [Back]

    41. Winfield S. Hancock to Wynkoop, 30 October 1866, Wynkoop Collection; for a full account of Hancock's expedition, see Timothy A. Zwink, "The Hancock-Custer Expedition of 1867" (M.A. thesis, Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1974). [Back]

    42. Wynkoop to N.G. Taylor, 15 April 1867, Wynkoop to Taylor, 18 April 1867, Wynkoop to Taylor, 21 April 1867, Letters Received, Office of Indian Affairs, Upper Arkansas Agency; Wynkoop to Murphy, 14 September 1867, 40th Cong., 2d sess., 1867, H. Exec. Doc. 1, pp. 310-14; New York Times, 30 May, 2 September 1867; New York Herald, 2 September 1867. [Back]

    43. For a full account of the Medicine Lodge council, see Douglas C. Jones, The Treaty of Medicine Lodge: The Story of the Great Treaty Council as Told by Eyewitnesses (Norman: (University of Oklahoma Press, 1966), see also U.S., Congress, House, Committee on Indian Affairs, Report of The Indian Peace Commissioners, 40th Cong., 2d sess., 1868, H. Exec. Doc. 97, pp. 1-23. [Back]

    44. New York Times, 19 December 1868. [Back]

    45. Ibid., 24 December 1868; "Address of Edward W. Wynkoop at the Cooper Institute' and clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook; F. M. Wynkoop, "Intimate Notes." pp. 4-5; Peter Cooper to Ulysses S. Grant, 19 March 1869, Martin to Wynkoop, 8 May 1875, Wynkoop Collection. [Back]

    46. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    47. Ibid.; Denver Rocky Mountain News, 13 April 1882. [Back]

    48. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    49. Commission and Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    50. Clippings, Wynkoop Scrapbook. [Back]

    51. Ibid.; Edward W. Wynkoop, Pension, Veterans Records. [Back]


Isern, Thomas D., "The Controversial Career of Edward W. Wynkoop," The Colorado Magazine, 56 (Winter-Spring 1979): pp. 1-18.

Acknowledgement and a Personal Note:

    I would like to thank Dr. Thomas Isern, [email protected], Professor of History at North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, for granting me permission to post a copy of his seminal article here in the Wynkoop Family Research Library. I hope I've done it the justice it deserves. The only changes I've made are editorial in nature; moving the notes from the bottom of each page to the very bottom of the article and providing hyper-links to each and every one to make accessing them quick and simple.

    Thank you Dr. Isern!

    Barbara Dey, [email protected], of the Colorado Historical Society in Denver wrote me back on February 9th, 2002 about the use of the images that appeared in The Colorado Magazine at the time of the article's original publication: "We will not be able to permit you to scan the images from your copy of the article. If you wish to use our images, we will be happy to provide you with good quality scans (on a CD) of the images at 72 d.p.i. and at whatever size you choose. Scans are $20.00 each. There would also be a web use fee of $5.00 per image used on a personal, non-profit web site."

    Fortunately I didn't have to resort to scanning these images from the original article as I have copies of my own from a variety of other sources including my personal collection, which includes original editions of Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. These personal copies are the source of the images that now accompany the online version of Dr. Isern's article. No images were scanned from The Colorado Magazine. The only image I'm disastisfied with is the first one of Ned Wynkoop and Capt. Jack Crawford, however it's the best image I have available to me and duplicates the original cover of the CHS publication, minus the imposed text placed on their copy of the image. For the time being I'll just have to live with it.

    I hope you enjoy the article.

    All my best,


Created May 9, 2002; Revised September 17, 2003
Comments to [email protected]

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