How to make history out of fiction

A few weeks ago I watched a PBS program called “Tears in the Sand,” which tells the story of the Sand Creek massacre and other events in the history of the Cheyenne people. In an otherwise informative and moving program, I noticed some unfamiliar “quotes” from the letters of Silas Soule, a young cavalry officer who had been involved in earlier efforts to make peace with the nations, was present at Sand Creek and quickly became a whistle-blower about what really happened that day. Continue reading

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The Sand Creek Massacre — An atrocity committed by John Chivington and the “Spider People”

This article first appeared in slightly different form in the Broomfield Enterprise September 18, 2007.

A couple years ago I went on a “tree tour” of Fairmount Cemetery in Denver. As we strolled around the pleasant grounds our guide named the various trees and explained their biology. At one point, as we gazed up at a beautiful white oak, a large memorial marker right in front of me caught my eye. I realized with a jolt it was the grave of Continue reading

Ned Wynkoop: Risked his life to make peace

Excerpts from my book, Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek (June 11, 2010).

Brash, good-looking, and ambitious, Edward (Ned) Wynkoop started out as one of frontier Denver’s “bad boys,” chumming around with actors, rebels, and gunmen. Later, as commander of Fort Lyon for the First Colorado Cavalry, he underwent an abrupt and radical transformation. Continue reading

Edward Wynkoop — an early believer in Denver humbug

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise (5/18/08).

Colorado has battled a boom and bust curse throughout its history, and its early days were no exception. In 1859, wild rumors spread throughout the East that western travelers had discovered a new Eldorado in the Pikes Peak region. Continue reading

Captain Silas S. Soule: Paid with his life to do the right thing

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise in 2008.

Early on a snowy November morning, about 70 people gathered around a soldier’s grave in the Civil War section of Denver’s Riverside Cemetery. The date was November 29, 2008, and the grave belonged to Silas S. Soule, who died from an assassin’s bullet on April 23, 1865. Continue reading