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Riverside Who’s Who

Capt. Silas Stillman Soule


Captain. Silas Soule

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.

Silas Soule

Silas Soule – Photo of stone by Carol Singer


By Tom Morton

Capt. Silas Stillman Soule is buried at Riverside Cemetery – Denver, Block 27






Oliver “The Ghost” Marcelle

Oliver Marcelle

Riverside Cemetery is the final resting place of Ollie “The Ghost” Marcelle, one of the greatest African-American baseball players. He is credited with
integrating professional baseball in Denver 13 years before Jackie Robinson officially integrated major league baseball in 1947.

Ollie was just a decent hitter, but he was an outstanding third baseman. He snared hit baseballs that the average infielder would have missed.
His nickname “The Ghost” came from his lightning-fast reflexes at third base. He was only 18 when he joined the Negro Leagues with the Brooklyn Royal Giants. He
later played for another black team in New York City, plus teams in Atlantic City, Detroit and Baltimore.

Unfortunately his violent temper erupted one time in 1929 when he and a teammate got into a
fight over a card game. In this fight his opponent bit off Ollie’s nose, causing him to wear a patch over his missing nose for the rest of his life.
After playing some more ball while enduring derogatory comments by opposing crowds, he left professional baseball and ended up here in Denver as a house
painter and handyman (playing occasional semi- pro ball).

In 1934 Ollie persuaded the promoter of the then-popular Denver Post baseball tournament to invite the Kansas City Monarchs to come here and play against a
traveling team called the House of David. The latter team was all white, while the Monarchs were one of the finest-ever African-American baseball teams.
Thousands of people came to watch these two teams play.

When Ollie Marcelle died here of a heart attack in 1949, he was alone and indigent. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the middle of Riverside’s Block 29. His
grave remained unmarked until 1991, when Fairmount and Riverside Cemeteries along with local sports historian Jay Sanford unveiled the current flat marker to “The
Ghost”. The marker bears the words of his Negro League friend Buck O’Neil:
“Baseball’s best third baseman brought black professional baseball to

By Garry O’Hara

Never to Sail Again

Life journeys some time take us to places we never expected to go. It was fully expected that Maine born Timothy Reirdan Stinson would spend his life at sea, sailing from port to port and always at a distance from his family. It is no surprise to find “Mariner” next to his name in the 1850 Federal census. Nor is it a surprise two years later, despite his youthful 31 years, to find him in the position as Captain of the newly built packet ship William and Mary.

With a cargo of hay and herring, her maiden voyage from Bath, ME to Charleston, SC must have felt like a cruise to the tropics. The January, 1853, eastbound sail with a load of upland cotton destined for Liverpool, England, was more challenging, as any winter voyage would expect to be. But Stinson’s real test as Captain came on his return voyage. With the William and Mary fully loaded, her steerage with 208 emigrants and her cargo hold with tons of railroad iron and crockery, she sailed low and slow, experiencing one storm after another en route to New Orleans. Some 20 passengers died on the crossing. With food and water supplies dangerously low during their seventh week at sea, everyone was elated on May 3rd when they began seeing evidence they were nearing land. Later that night while passing through the Northwest Providence Channel in the Bahamas, the Captain prematurely changed course, running the ship onto a pile of submerged rock, and puncturing her wooden hull. Immediate the ship began taking on water, alarming both passengers and crew. All through the night, passengers manned the ship’s two pumps and kept the ship afloat. But early the next morning, the Captain did the unthinkable. With a lifeboat stocked with water and food supplies, the Captain, his 2 officers, and several of the crew rowed away from their ship and its deckfull of horrified passengers. Unable to manuever the ship, the passengers did all they could do—they prayed and they pumped. Finally, after two days and just at the point of giving up, a small schooner appeared on the horizon. Although it was manned by Bahamian wreckers, those who make their living salvaging sinking ships, they first moved all the women and children to the western shore of Grand Bahama Island. Next they returned for the men and likewise delivered them to the beach. Eventually the travelers were moved on to Nassau, then to New Orleans, and finally up the Mississippi to become part of the American fabric.

The Captain’s life also changed. The press of 1853 showed no mercy toward Stinson and he quickly disappeared into the western landscape. The 1860 Federal census shows him living in central Illinois; in 1872 he is found in Denver, many miles from the sea, and self-employed as a house painter. The following year, it would appear that he found peace in what had to be a troubling 20 years; he began attending one of the churches in downtown Denver, made public profession of his faith in Christ, and became a member of the church family. Over the next two decades he spent his days painting many of the homes in Denver, and each night went home to his wife. He never returned to the sea. On March 24, 1894, he died of heart failure and was laid to rest in Block 5, Lot 50 in Riverside Cemetery. A large white marble stone, the upper portion somewhat resembling the mast of a ship, now marks his grave and that of his wife and son.

Written by Kenneth A. Schaaf, a retired staff member of the Library of Congress, who lives with his wife near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
Photo by Mark DeNooy, Denver

Indiana Sopris Cushman Denver’s first woman schoolteacher.

Indiana Sopris Cushman was Denver’s first woman schoolteacher and one of the city’s very early pioneers.  She was born in 1839 in Indiana; some say she was the namesake not of the state but of a riverboat (named the “Indiana”) that her father worked on in his youth.  She arrived here in a covered wagon in 1860 with her parents and some of her seven siblings.  Since there were few young women here at that time, she and her sister Irene were very popular.  She later wrote that when she got to Denver, “We found some very pleasant people here, but not very many families, mostly men, very few young ladies; my sister and I and half a dozen other young ladies were all there were in Denver.  Of course, we were all belles then.”

On May 7, 1860, when she was only 21 years old, Indiana opened a private school and later taught in the first public school in Denver.  She was also one of the organizers of the First Congregational Church and its Sunday school.  She married businessman Samuel Cushman in 1866.

She later wrote about an incident in Denver in 1864:  “One night we had a very bad scare.  A man came in and told us that a great body of Indians were coming, so the alarm was sounded….  A family I happen to know, a man and wife, were down town on F street eating ice cream at a restaurant and when the scare came the gentleman said, ‘Let’s go down to the Fillmore Block.’  The wife replied, ‘Oh, let’s go home and get the baby.’  ‘Oh, he said, ‘God will take care of the baby; let us save ourselves.’  That really happened.”  (The Indians never came.)

Her father Richard Sopris was one of the most prominent of Colorado’s early pioneers.  He came here ahead of his family in 1859 and was one of the first Gold Rush prospectors and an original shareholder of the town of Auraria.  He was elected to the Territorial Legislature of Kansas representing Arapahoe County (which was then the westernmost county of Kansas).  He became a captain in the First Colorado Infantry and a year later was chosen to be the first president of the Colorado Agricultural Society.  In 1862 Richard Sopris was elected sheriff of Arapahoe County.  He served as president of the Colorado Pioneer Association and was mayor of Denver from 1878 to 1881, after which he was the city’s parks commissioner.  Mount Sopris is named for him.

Indiana’s mother Elizabeth was considered the oldest of Denver’s pioneers when she died in 1911 at the age of 96.  A descendant of Ethan Allen, she was widely known as the “Grand Old Woman of the Ladies’ Aid Society.”

Indiana Sopris Cushman died in 1925 at age 86 and is buried at Riverside Cemetery with her parents and several other family members in Block 1.

Find out more about Riverside Cemetery tours and events here.

Learn more about the amazing Fairmount Heritage Foundation here.

By Garry O’Hara

Veterans of Riverside Cemetery

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

I also searched on line for information from the Denver Public Library and 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…” (

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:

  • Riverside Cemetery came into existence in 1876. Then in 1900, Fairmount Cemetery took over ownership of Riverside Cemetery.
  • Before Riverside Cemetery there was City Cemetery. City Cemetery was in operation until about 1890. About 75 to 100 Union Veterans were removed from City Cemetery to Riverside.
  • Riverside Cemetery has a number of military burials. It is said, unofficially, that Riverside Cemetery has the most Civil War vets of any cemetery in Colorado.
  • Soon after Riverside Cemetery came into existence, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Cemetery Association purchased about three-fourths of the lots, minus the walkways, within Block 27 for the purpose of burying their Union Civil War Veterans. Today, the Sons of the Union Veterans, who inherited the lots, have ownership.
  • There are about 900 to 1100 veterans buried in the GAR lots of Block 27. Some are in unmarked graves.
  • However, there are a few Confederate Veterans (about 10 to 15) buried at Riverside Cemetery in various locations.
  • And, yes, there are veterans of various other wars as well; they too are buried in various locations within Riverside Cemetery.
  • For those who may ask, what about Fort Logan? In the early days of Fort Logan, before it became a National Military Cemetery, it interred only those folks who were stationed and died at Fort Logan. It wouldn’t be until 1950, when Fort Logan became a National Military Cemetery, that other members of the military could be buried there as well.

To view all of the veterans documented, visit: 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

Alice Polk Hill the first poet laureate of Colorado

Alice was the first poet laureate of Colorado, having been selected for this ceremonial post by the governor in 1919.

She was the first person in the nation to hold this position, and her duties included writing poems for public occasions.  She was also the first woman to be a member of the State Historical Society.  In addition to being a poet, she was a writer, reporter, historian, real estate investor, and music teacher.

Born in 1845, in Kentucky, Alice belonged to the Daughters of the Confederacy.  A founder of the Woman’s Press Club and the Women’s Club of Denver, she was the only woman member of the commission who wrote the charter for the City and County of Denver in 1904.  Among her books were Tales of the Pioneers of Colorado (1884) and its revised version Colorado Pioneers in Picture and Story (1915).  When she died, her body lay in state in the State Capitol.

One of her poems was dedicated to the pioneers of Colorado.  She wrote that they were:

“… proud of the State whose corner-stone they laid,
Proud of her mines of silver and gold;
Proud of her flocks spread over the plains;
Proud of her sons, patriotic and bold;
Proud of her fields of golden grain:
Proud of her mountains and sunny skies;
Proud of her Statehood, by birthright a peer;
Midst the stars of the Union she shines, the prize;
The crowning glory of the hundredth year.”

This last line is a reference to the entry of Colorado
into the Union in the nation’s hundredth year (1876).

Alice died in 1921 and was buried at Riverside in Block 19.

By Joan and Garry O’Hara

Zipporah Hammond First Black Graduate University of Colorado Nursing School

First Black Graduate University of Colorado Nursing School

So often when we write about the residents of Riverside it is because of their contributions to early Colorado history,  Zipporah Hammond is the exception to that trend. Up until her death in 2011 she was working as a volunteer at the Denver Public Library’s Western History Department. She spent countless hours cataloging and organizing vast amounts of information pertaining to Denver’s black history.

The best way to examine Zipporah’s life is from her son.
Steve Hammond nominated his mother to become a
member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012.  She was not selected at that time, we can only hope that in the future that oversight will be remedied. The following information of her life comes from Steve’s nomination documents.

Zipporah Parks Hammond was born on March 1, 1924.  She attended Denver’s Whittier Elementary and Morey Junior High Schools and graduated from Manual High School in 1941.

After high school Zipporah enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the fall of 1941. The United States was about to enter World War II and would need nurses to support the war. Zipporah was the only African American in a class of 30 nursing students. She participated in The Cadet Nurse Corps when it was established in 1943 to help train nurses for the war effort. Although the university was progressive by admitting her, many whites were bitter about her entrance to the university. As a result, she was received coldly by both her professors and classmates. She refused to give up and in 1946 she became the first black student to graduate from the University of Colorado Nursing School.

After graduation, Zipporah worked as a surgical operating room nurse at Colorado General Hospital in Denver. A short time later she was recruited by John W. Chenault, MD, the chief of orthopedics at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama as his chief surgical nurse.  She worked at the John Andrews Hospital-Infantile Paralysis Unit, the institute’s polio clinic.  Zipporah’s nursing career was cut short when she  contracted tuberculosis in Tuskegee. She returned from Alabama to the dry Colorado climate and was hospitalized at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver for many months. There she met her future husband, Sheldon Leroy Hammond of Schenectady, NY, also a TB patient. They courted and were married on November 29, 1952.

Based on scarring of her lungs and doctors’ recommendations, Zipporah was unable to continue her nursing career. However, to maintain her connection to the medical field and continue to serve others, she returned to the University of Colorado in 1951 to build on her nursing
credentials. Zipporah obtained certification as a medical records librarian. She became assistant director of the Medical Records Department at University Hospital and in 1953 became medical records director at Presbyterian Hospital until resigning in 1956 to raise a family. In 1964 she
returned to work at University Hospital, finally retiring in 1991. It was then she began her 17 years as a volunteer at the Denver Public Library.

Zipporah Hammond subtly and gracefully broke down barriers. Through her actions and perseverance she made significant and enduring contributions that changed the perspective of what could be expected of minorities who choose to pursue nursing as a profession.

By Stephen Hammond (Zipporah’s son) and Ray Thal

Prof. P. C. Dorrego, 19th Century “Guitar Hero”

A simple, elegant marker by the side of the road in the northeast section of Riverside cemetery marks the final resting place of a man of mystery.

“Prof. P. C. Dorrego, born in Buenos Ayres, Argentine Republic, died in Denver Oct. 24, 1887.”*

Professor of what?  Why was he buried alone, so far away from his place of birth in a plot purchased by a local music company?  Historic newspapers and records provide clues, but mysteries remain about the man buried in Block 21, Lot 193.

Professor Dorrego arrived in Denver in the summer of 1887 where he received rave reviews for performances on his unique 17-string harp guitar.  The Denver music aficionados were so thrilled to have this famous touring performer that A “Grand Testimonial Benefit Concert” was scheduled on Thursday, October 27 at the Lyceum Hall at Fourteenth and Lawrence Streets.

On the night before the concert the Professor died of a heart attack in his hotel room.  Dorrego’s friends Frank and Frederick Torres, natives of Spain, had recently re-located from Brooklyn to open a cigar factory in Denver.  As representatives of the local Spanish community they took charge of Dorrego’s affairs and with the help of the Knight-McClure Music Company they engaged McHatton’s Funeral Home and purchased a plot at Riverside Cemetery.  The grave-side service was held in Spanish, reportedly the first ever such service in Denver.  When it became clear that Dorrego died penniless and had no known family, Dorrego’s effects were sold at auction to cover expenses.  The McHarport brothers Theodore and Horatio, Denver music store proprietors, became the fortunate owners of his favorite guitar, possibly the famous harp guitar.

Notice of Dorrego’s death was included in the Boston Weekly Journal along with that of singer Jenny Lind and other notables.  His obituary ran in the Art Journal of New York, the Springfield Massachusetts Republican, San Jose California Evening News and the Los Angeles Times.

The World’s Greatest Living Guitarist

Thirty-something Argentinian Pedro Dorrego performed with his harp guitar in Santiago Chile in 1861 and later at the Grand Theatre of Lima, Peru.  His US music career had a rousing start at Gilbert’s New Melodeon in San Francisco in August 1865.  Most of Dorrego’s time in the US was in California, moving between Sacramento and the Bay area, with a few years in the booming town of Los Angeles and five years on the east coast.

He was billed as Professor Pedro C. Dorrego, “The World’s Greatest Living Guitarist”.  A short, heavy set man with thick, stubby fingers, he played seated, guitar upright in his lap, not strumming, using only the thumb and first finger.  A bit of a showman, Dorrego was known not only for the harp guitar, but also for his ability to play up to 10 guitars at a time.  Play bills announced that he would be performing his own songs, and reviews indicated that he also skilled at improvisation.

Dorrego was comfortable in a variety of venues: the Baptist Church Strawberry Social, a solo during the camp scenes of “The Plains” at the Metropolitan Theater, a Father Mathew Society temperance meeting and a gig at the Long Branch Saloon.  He shared the stage with a variety of performers as well, from the magician Carabaraba to “Harpiste, Pianiste and Vocaliste Signorina Inez Carusi”.  The California Spanish speaking community enjoyed his skill also as evidenced by advertisements in the Spanish language newspapers for Profesor de Musica, available for concerts, dances and serenades.

An association with the Hyers Sisters, famous black opera singers credited with founding musical theater, and Hugo Yanke, student of Liszt, led Dorrego from California to New York in February, 1871.  He took a ship by way of Panama, arriving in New York City on July 13.  By July 30 he was working with some of greats of the minstrel and vaudeville circuits – Hooley’s Minstrels, Cool White and Tony Pastor to name a few.  Dorrego toured the east coast, teaching for a time at the Brooklyn Musical Academy and returned to California in 1875.

In 1880 17 young men from Spain took the New York musical scene by storm, playing Spanish-style guitars in colorful folk costumes.  A number of look-alike groups, most called “The Original Spanish Students”, took advantage of the resulting mandolin craze across the country.  Dorrego joined the San Francisco group that played excursion cruises, picnics and local celebrations.

When this Spanish Student troupe decided to tour the west, Dorrego went along, bringing him in July 1887 to Denver, his final resting place.


By all accounts Professor Pedro C. Dorrego was a skilled and popular musician, an interesting inhabitant of Riverside Cemetery.  Some mysteries may remain unsolved; others may only await further research to provide answers.

Mystery #1  Who were Pedro’s parents?  He claimed his father was Argentinian revolutionary, Manuel Dorrego; that he was born in 1829, raised in exile in Chile.  Manuel was assassinated by firing squad on December 13, 1828 and left a farewell note to his wife and two daughters with no mention of a son.  Likewise, Manuel’s biographers do not mention a son, illegitimate or otherwise.  A good story – embellished perhaps in the P. T. Barnum era of self-promotion?

Mystery #2  Where did Pedro play in Europe and for what audiences?  An early advertisement indicated that Dorrego “Took the Prize in Madrid the Capital of Spain” in 1848.  Obituaries claim he made three trips around the world, was presented medals by the King of Spain, Czar of Russia, King Wilhelm of Prussia.  Possible? – it was relatively common for musicians to do world tours even before planes and automobiles, and music competitions have always been popular.

Mystery #3  Why is his widow buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs?  Dorrego married Mrs. Lola Morales Regnal in New York 1871.  She was the only daughter of a language professor at New York College, and niece of actor Gabriel Harrison.  At the time of Pedro’s death in Denver, Lola, her son Claude from a previous marriage, and her parents were living together in New York City.  After her parents died, she and Claude went to Las Cruces, New Mexico where she taught music at the Agricultural and Engineering school from 1891 to 1895.  When Claude died, Lola moved to Pueblo, Colorado, advertising elocution and voice instruction as the widow of Pedro C.  Her son’s body was moved to Colorado Springs in 1896, and she was buried in the plot beside him in 1923.

*Death certificate for P. C. Dorrego is dated October 26, not October 24.  The lot card indicates that he was originally buried in Lot 15, Block 26 and moved on October 30 to the final resting place.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            By Nancy K. Prince

Tadaatsu Matsudaira, Colorado’s First Japanese Pioneer

Tadaatsu Matsudaira, the son of Japanese nobility, was born in 1851. He sent to the U.S. in 1872 with his brother, Tadanori, to attend Rutgers University in New Jersey.

In 1879, he married Carrie Sampson, daughter of the first superintendent of the Golden Reform School.  Failing health brought him to Denver in 1886 where he became the State Inspector of Mines’ assistant and a civil engineer with the State Engineers Office.  He died on January 26, 1888 at the age of 33.  He has been recognized as the first Japanese resident of Colorado.  A red granite monolith, erected by the Oriental Culture Society, marks his grave in Block 13 at Riverside Cemetery.

In 1989, his descendants erected a red granite cenotaph* in his memory in Block 26.

*Cenotaph is a memorial to a person buried elsewhere.

Frank Mulligan’s Fall from Grace

Frank Mulligan had been a Denver cop since 1904 when he was snared in a scandal that screamed across Denver’s newspapers for weeks in 1918.

It began with a quiet, middle-of-the-night ride in the country for Mrs. Irene Nolan and her priest, Father Garrett Burke. It was New Year’s Eve 1917 and Mr. Nolan, a prominent Denver businessman, was out of town but asked the priest, a friend of the family, to watch over his wife because she was “fond of the butterfly life.”

After midnight, Father Burke and Mrs. Nolan, who had shared a New Year’s celebration with champagne at her home at 1276 Corona Street, arrived at the Model Roadhouse, located on Brighton Boulevard where it crosses Sand Creek. Their explanation was that the father’s car was acting up and that they stopped at the roadhouse to make a phone call for a mechanic. When they entered the roadhouse, Father Burke remembered, patrons were “dancing and having a jollification.” Prohibition had gone into effect in Colorado in 1915, five years ahead of the federal ban, but savvy patrons could bring their liquor and order “set-ups” from the bar.

The couple was escorted to a private room off the barroom to await the arrival of the mechanic. At about 3:30 in the morning, two masked men burst into their room, fired several shot into the floor and relieved Mrs. Nolan of $4,000 in diamonds. She was so distraught, she said, that she drank a whiskey to calm her nerves, but a waiter who served them during the five or so hours they were at the roadhouse recalled delivering ten glasses of highball ingredients. “They were pretty well liquored up.”

Mulligan’s defense at his trial was that he was too drunk to have carried out the holdup. He testified that he confessed to Hamilton Armstrong, Denver’s chief of police, “I made an ass of myself, chief. I was at the roadhouse. I went out there with a man named Kerrigan and Tommy Bartless. They had a couple of bottles of whiskey and I got drunk. I can’t stand whiskey and I know it. This time I allowed it to get the best of me. Robbery was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, I was too drunk to plan or carry out a robbery if I chose to do so.”

Other witnesses disagreed. Mulligan’s co-defendant, Philip Cohen, a 33-year-old fruit dealer from Denver and Greeley, claimed that it was the Denver detective who put him up to it.

The diamonds were mysteriously recovered, mailed in a package from Pueblo some weeks later. The thieves apparently thought they would be forgiven for their crime. They weren’t.  On April 5, 1920, Cohen and Mulligan each were given sentences of five to seven years for highway robbery and grand larceny. Newspapers said Mulligan, 44, “cried like a child” when the verdict was read. Both men entered the state penitentiary in Canon City on April 13. Mulligan was paroled on May 27, 1922, having served twenty-three months of his sentence and Governor Oliver Shoup pardoned him on January 8, 1923.

Mulligan, who pursued a career as a car salesman and electrician after his dismissal from the police department, died at the age of 66 in 1942 and was interred at Riverside Cemetery on September 8. He and his wife, Effie, who died in 1956, are buried side-by-side in Section 19 with simple granite markers.

By Dick Kreck, Retired Newpaperman