Another shooting on the streets of Denver
Silas Soule (pronounced “sole”) was born in Maine in 1838, and grew up there and later in Massachusetts. His parents were strong abolitionists who joined a group whose goal was to help settle the Kansas territory and bring it into the Union as a Free State. His Father and brother moved to Kansas in 1854, settling near Lawrence, and one year later Silas, his sisters, and mother joined them. Their house became a way station on the underground railway for slaves fleeing the south.
In 1860 Silas and his brother joined the gold rush to Colorado, and after the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 Silas enlisted in the Colorado Volunteers. He was rapidly promoted, and by 1864 he was a Captain in commanded of a Company of the Colorado Cavalry. Later that year they were transferred to Fort Lyon in southeastern Colorado.
In June 1864 a family of four was killed by Indians 25 miles south-east of Denver, leading to a public outcry for armed protection for the city. The Governor, John Evans, could not get troops from either Kansas or the Federal government, however Colorado was allowed to raise a regiment of volunteers for 100 days. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister, an avowed Indian hater, and the hero of the Battle of Glorietta Pass was put in charge of the volunteers. He raised a regiment of several hundred, and after Evans went to Washington to try to get troops there, Chivington realized the 100 days were almost up, marched his regiment to Fort Lyon where he commandeered 200 more troops, including Silas Soule’s Company, and on November 29, 1864, he fell on the Indian camp at Sand Creek, which was flying the US flag and a white flag of surrender. Although ordered to attack, Soule could see that the Indians were mainly peaceful women, children and old men, so he ordered his troops to stand fast. The rest of the soldiers killed about 160 of the natives, and after the massacre they scalped and mutilated many of the victims. Chivington branded Soule a coward, and threatened to have him cashiered from the army, but when word of the engagement got back to Washington, it was realized it had been a massacre, and an inquiry was instituted. At the Court of Inquiry, held in Denver in February 1865, Soule testified that the massacre was primarily the fault of Chivington, and all those involved were vilified. Governor Evans was asked to resign, and there was talk that Chivington would be court-marshaled, but instead he resigned his volunteer commission and moved to Nebraska.
Silas Soule was appointed the Provost Marshall of Denver in charge of the military police here. On April first, 1865, he married Hersa Coberly, but just three weeks later, on April 23rd he heard a commotion outside his home. He went out to investigate, two men jumped from some bushes, and one shot him in the head, killing him. The shooter, private Charles Squire, a supporter of Chivington, fled to New Mexico, but one of Soule’s Lieutenants, James Cannon, tracked him down and brought him back to jail in Denver. A few days later Cannon was found poisoned in his room. Later that summer, with inside help, Squire escaped from jail and was not seen in Colorado again.
Soule was originally buried in City Cemetery with full military honors. When that became Cheesman Park his body was removed to Riverside Cemetery where it is buried in the Grand Army of the Republic section. His widow remarried, and is also buried at Riverside beside her second husband.
In 2010 a historic plaque was placed on the east side of the Park Central building at 15th and Arapahoe, near where he was killed, commemorating Silas Soule and his courageous stand.
By Tom Morton
Capt. Silas Stillman Soule is buried at Riverside Cemetery – Denver, Block 27
In late 2014, the Fairmount Heritage Foundation asked if I would develop a research project for the Riverside Veterans as I did for the babies and children buried in Block 12 (Riverside Block 12 Project). With excitement stirring in my heart I responded: “Yes, I would love to.” However, there was a caveat,… the Burial Books and the Block Books had been sent out for digitization, and, therefore not available for me to search through.
I am not easily daunted. The genealogist in me grabbed notebook, camera, umbrella, and hat and headed out to start walking through all of the blocks in Riverside, about 38 of them if I recall correctly. I’ve walked 20 blocks so far and have another 18 more to go. I also checked as many of the Riverside Index Cards on file as possible, looking for information on the individuals I had located during my walks and via www.findagrave.com.
I also searched on line for information from the Denver Public Library and www.familysearch.org. I was looking for those ‘Military Records’ and ‘Headstone Application Records’ in order to prove questionable persons as veterans and to provide a little more insight on the veteran and any next-of-kin that he or she may have had.
It has taken me about a year to gather up and document all (I may have missed a handful along the way) the veterans at Riverside Cemetery. To date I have documented 1322 veterans ranging from the Crimean War to the present. Most of the veterans are Civil War era veterans, located in Block 27.
There are some notable veterans buried at Riverside. Most folks are familiar with Silas Soule, but how about John Long Routt, 1st and 7th Governor of Colorado; as well as, one time Mayor of Denver; how about Harry Mrachek for whom the Mrachek Middle School in Aurora was named. (Actually, the school was named after he and his wife Ellin, who is in the Aurora Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame). Harry was once the Principal at the school. Then there is Webster D. Anthony, who served as Arapahoe County Treasurer, as well as other official positions during his lifetime – including serving under Territorial Governor John Evans. There is also a one time resident of Riverside, who was later removed to Fairmount Cemetery, Dr. William Reddick Whitehead, who served in the Crimean War and the Civil War, and was “knighted into the Imperial Order of St. Stanislaus by the Russian Empire…” (www.findagrave.com).
It is interesting to note, there are a number of veterans who served this country well, who were not citizens of the United States. These veterans came from England, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and various other countries. What a debt of gratitude we owe to them as well.
In my research, here is a little information I have learned along the way:
To view all of the veterans documented, visit: http://block12riverside.com/Mil/riverside-mil.html and click on ‘Download PDF’.
I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy searching for our veterans and ‘digging’ up whatever information I can find – to fill in the ‘dash’ between their birth and death.
I salute all the Veterans of Riverside.
By Vickie Smejkal