Still sifting and meandering through history after our Dec. 27 history edition.
I was trying to find out exactly where Ohlwller Park was situated in Ouray. I'm pretty sure it was at the southeast corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue, and I probably need to just go spend a little time in the Ouray Library and ask Maureen and folks there if any maps exist showing the park.
My interest was drawn because I was searching papers from the 1800s for early baseball tidbits. The past few days I've been struck by the same thing that must have inflicted Hall of Fame player Rogers Hornsby. When asked what he did during the offseason, he said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
As I sifted, I came across an article in the June 27, 1884 Solid Muldoon noting a game of baseball to be played at Ohlwiler's Park "between the Juniors and Seniors, the stakes being one keg of beer."
Made me wonder how big Ohlwiler's Park was, and in looking at a map of the city plat in Doris Gregory's excellent book, "History of Ouray," I figure those Juniors were probably hitting the ball across 2nd and 1st streets and rolling it into the Uncompahgre River.
As I turned a page or two, I came across a segment on the formation of the city.
You may think your current Ouray City Council runs like a well-oiled machine, unencumbered by petty political maneuvering and backbiting. In fact, you may view the current councilors and mayor as a fairly cohesive unit.
If that's all true, then this council is only following tradition dating back to the town's formation, when each newly-elected governing body was a cohesive unit and loyal to only itself.
Everything was moving along swimmingly in 1876. The Town Trustees (what the council was called then) had their first meeting in a cabin on Oct. 4, electing Milton Cline as president of the board of trustees. In four months, on Jan. 18, 1877, Ouray County was created and the county commissioners had their first meeting on March 7, designating the City of Ouray as the county seat.
Along the way, under the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, Colorado joined the Union as the thirty-eighth state in August 1876.
After Cline was elected president of the board, he was continuing the process of obtaining a patent from the U.S. government for the city, when in April 1877 the city elections came along.
Every one of the board of trustees was voted out.
Shocked and dismayed, the old board was beside itself and felt it had unfinished business that only it could resolve. They had all the knowledge of the process in place to make Ouray a city and believed the young upstarts who were elected lacked experience and know-how.
So the old board just refused to step down and refused to turn over the books — in fact, it hid the books.
For nearly a year this went on, with each body declaring legal authority. It was so confusing that any property recordings required buyer and seller to get two signatures - Cline's and Hubbard Reed's, the newly-elected president of the board — as security against default.
It wasn't until April 1878, when a new board was elected, with neither Cline nor Hubbard appearing on the ballot, that Ira Y. Munn, a member of the original board, presented the third board with documents and papers related to the title of the town.
The old books were eventually found at a saw mill beneath a pile of sawdust.
Somewhere in my baseball search, I came across the name of an early saloon in Ouray called the Bucket of Blood. It was located across the street from the Beaumont Hotel where the parking lot of the Ouray Chalet sits now. I searched for Bucket of Blood and found that it had been many things after it was a saloon, including a laundry and a boarding house.
I meandered to 1909, and in the Dec. 3 issue of the Plaindealer, I came across an account written by Editor F.J. Hulaniski. He was reminiscing about a time 19 years prior when he and his partner, "Muldoon" Kelly, "were running the Plaindealer then in the basement of the opera house, and directly opposite from the old 'Bucket of Blood' saloon, to and from which the office force always had a good trail broke through the snow."
I emailed Mark Orgren, current board member for the Wright Opera House, and told him that the Plaindealer had once operated in the building's basement. Mark was as unaware of this as was I.
Back to Hulaniski, he continued his remembrance of around 1890 and said he went to Creede to see about starting a paper there, "feeling that the wild-eyed heathen over there needed religious and editorial training as much as the constituency round and about Ouray."
The first person he met in Creede was none other than Bob Ford, who had shot famed outlaw Jesse James in the back in Missouri. Ford was at first celebrated, and even went on a speaking tour in Missouri, but soon became known as the "dirty little coward." Shooting anyone in the back, even one of the most notorious outlaws of all time, was frowned upon. Ford was forced to leave the state for the good of his health.
Ford wandered a bit, finally settling in Creede and starting a dance hall. Hulaniski said he went into Ford's dance hall in Creede and asked a lady why it was that beer was one dollar per, instead of a nickel as it was down in Kansas. "She beckoned to Ford and he came over and informed me that the next train left town in just five minutes," Hulaniski wrote. "When I reached the depot I had nearly four minutes to spare, and never went back to Creede."
Ford's dance hall would burn down in 1892, and he quickly set up a makeshift tent in which to operate. The next day, Edward O'Kelley walked in with a sawed off shotgun, said "Hello, Bob," and when Ford turned around O'Kelley dropped him with both barrels.
O'Kelley was thought to have been a member of the famed swindler Soapy Smith's gang, but that's for another meandering column through Colorado's early days.
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.