A Look Back: The stolen bonnet
Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of articles published in the Summit County Journal in 1951 and recently unearthed by the Summit Historical Society.
(As recounted by her mother, Mrs. Charles Finding)
Early in the year 1859 my father, Marshel Silverthorne, decided to come to Colorado for his health, arriving in Denver May 17, 1859.
Improving rapidly in health, he returned to Pennsylvania to bring back his family. With his wife and three children he started on his return trip to Denver early in March 1860. We came by train to St. Louis, then by boat to Omaha.
We were two weeks on the boat, as we did not travel at night. After a short visit in Council Bluffs, we outfitted for the trip. We were six weeks on the plains. We did not travel on Sundays. Mother devoted this day to washing, baking and cooking for the following week.
Twice during the trip, the Indians were determined that my father should trade my mother for some of their ponies. The last time they were inclined to be rather ugly about it and father had quite a time with them.
We arrived in Denver May 18th, 1860, just a year and a day after my father’s first arrival. We rented a house of four rooms situated at what is now Fourteenth and Lawrence Streets. This house was built of rough boards, with no paint and with most of the windows covered with white muslin. It was called the Denver House after General Denver. This house was owned by Samuel Dolman who had gone back to Kansas with his family. We paid eighty-five dollars a month rent.
Soon, some friends of father wanted to board with us. These were George Clark of Clark and Grubbers, Major Fillmore, Judge Hallet and others. With so many, mother had more than she could do so hired a daughter of old Left Hand, an Indian chief of the Arapahoe.
I remember one day a number of Indians were around the house and mother wanted a small pair of moccasins for my little brother, who stepped on some prickly pears near the house, hurting his feet very badly. We could not get all the needles picked out. Mother went with the Indians into the dining room asking me to watch that the Indians outside did not enter and steal anything.
I was afraid, so as soon as my mother had gone I crawled under the bed and from there I watched the door open. Very soon a squaw peeped through a crack in the door and seeing something handy there stepped in and put it under her blanket. It was my new sunbonnet made with casing and pasteboard called slats, run in.
After a trade of sugar and moccasins had taken place and the Indians gone, I crawled out of my hiding place and said, “Mother, one of the squaws took my sunbonnet.” Taking me by the hand she said, “come out and show me which one.” I was frightened but had to go. Mother asked them if they had the bonnet but they denied having it. I pointed out the one who had taken it but she shook her head, “No,” so mother took hold of her elbows, raised them and the sunbonnet fell out of the folds of her blanket. Mother folded up the slats and boxed the squaw’s ears. They all began to cry out. In a few minutes Whites and Indians were gathered there.
Our friends cried out, “Oh don’t Mrs. Silverthorne, we will all be killed.” However, the Indians soon quieted down and walked away. They were always stealing everything they could get their hands on, but their specialties were soap, sugar and bluing.
This account was written in 1951 by Agnes Miner, granddaughter of Marshel Silverthorne. Her mother was Mrs. Charles Finding, daughter of Marshel Silverthorne.
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