During the past few months, I made a number of road trips through Jefferson County looking for specific places that appear in my book, “Notorious Jefferson County.” These are spots where notorious murders took place back during the turn of the last century.
My “history detective” trips turned in delightful tours of the county, which is truly enormous. The northern edge of Jefferson County is up by Broomfield/Boulder counties; the southern tip is way down south next to Douglas County, near the Hayman fire area. The eastern border is Sheridan Boulevard in Denver, which is a hefty chunk of the city.
If you’re interested in old Jefferson County placenames, a very helpful website is maintained by the Jefferson County historical commission. Unfortunately, the website didn’t always yield up the answers I was looking for. One placename that took a long time to locate was the village of “Midway.”
The case was the murder of a woman referred to as “elderly,” though she was only in her early 50s. Her name was Mary Cobb. A young black man who worked for her, Marion Shobe, was the prime suspect, along with her elder brother, Bert Hodge. The three of them lived in a farmhouse near the village of Midway, a place that no longer exists.
I found several “Midways,” including a notorious “roadhouse,” aka house of ill-repute, midway between Denver and Morrison. This place was busted a lot during prohibition and yielded up a nice cache of moonshine.
But I knew it wasn’t “my” Midway because at least one article said it was somewhere on the “Golden Road,” which is today’s South Golden Road, which turns into Colfax Avenue. There was also reference to the “Cement Road.” I figured that meant there must have been a cement works along the road somewhere, so I spent some time poring over old maps looking for cement works. I found some on the road between Golden and Morrison but that didn’t fit with the “Golden Road,” which heads east into Denver. I finally learned from Kenton Forrest at the Colorado Railroad Museum that “Cement Road” referred to a newfangled thing at the time — a road made of cement. Silly me. He said the first such road in the region was South Golden Road. At last, it all made sense.
Finally, in a local history book published by the City of Edgewater (available free from the city offices near Sloan’s Lake), I found a map that identified the location of this lost village called Midway. It was near today’s intersection of Wadsworth and West Jewell Avenue in Lakewood, a spot that shows nary a sign of any old village that used to exist there.
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Her first week on the job, and Marshal Beth Mayo is hit with a sex assault case. It’s a nasty shock for the bucolic mountain town of Sugarloaf and for Mayo, who is still recovering from her husband’s death. Her initial skepticism grows into disbelief over the victim’s zany story, and she dismisses the case as a false report. Unfortunately, the same woman is soon discovered in the ruins of a ghost town, most definitely murdered.
Mayo unravels the complex case through a parade of colorful suspects and misfit family members, all the while following a common thread from 150 years earlier — Colorado history’s most notorious event, the Sand Creek Massacre.