Mill owner Mullens was mired in juicy piece of Denver lore

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

The “Old Broomfield” area bordered by U.S. 36 and 120th Avenue is dotted with remnants and landmarks of historical interest, making life a bit difficult for those managing the 120th Avenue Connection project. The most prominent of these is the pair of grain silos on either side of West 120th Avenue at Old Wadsworth.

The silo south of 120th Avenue, now occupied by Randy`s Auto Service, was built in 1916 by J.K. Mullen, owner of the Colorado Milling and Elevator Co. The mill produced the company`s well-known specialty, Hungarian high-altitude flour.

The mill was managed by Fred Harrison from 1917 to 1941. When the Harrisons arrived from Kansas in 1917, Fred`s wife, Nina, must have been thrilled to live in a tent for an entire year. They brought their two young children, Merwin, 2, and Gerald, a baby. Fred finally created a living space in the mill`s warehouse, and eventually the company built them a home next door.

Mill owner Mullen enjoyed a reputation as a philanthropist, an “old school gentleman” and a generous employer, who enjoyed giving bonuses to his workers. He had five daughters and lived in a beautiful mansion at 896 Pennsylvania St. in Denver. Already a “millionaire miller” when he built the mill in Broomfield, Mullen made headlines in August 1906 after a somewhat scandalous melee with a wealthy neighbor.

On a Sunday afternoon, July 29, 1906, a relative staying in the Mullen mansion suddenly became ill. Mullen grabbed the phone to call a doctor, but he shared a party line with the Tyson Dines family. Dines was one of Denver`s most prominent attorneys.

When Mullen picked up the phone, Virginia Dines, a beautiful debutante of considerable reputation, was on the line talking to a young man. Mullen explained to Dines that it was a matter of life and death that she get off the phone for a moment and let him call a physician. Dines “answered him impertinently and told him not to ‘butt in.'” She carried on her conversation for another half-hour or so. Mullen`s entreaties grew more emphatic, to the point the poor lass wailed to Papa that Mullens had said she was “no lady.”

Papa Dines marched over to the Mullen home with something called a “dog whip” and a large revolver. He burst in and whipped the 60-year-old Mullen, knocking him down and pummeling his face. Nina Mullen and the five daughters jumped on Dines. The lawyer`s revolver dropped to the floor and he picked it up and waved it around the room. Nina Mullens screamed there was a man dying upstairs. Dines said he “did not give a **** if there were four dead in the house,” but strode out.

Dines was briefly arrested and his social position suffered considerably. Mullens sued for $50,000, but later withdrew the suit when Dines publicly apologized. It`s unknown what happened to the sick relative.

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