They Weren’t All Prostitutes & Gamblers | Frisco Museum Lecture Series


So without further ado please welcome
Miss Sandie Mather thank you for coming. While I was working on my book about the
saloons of Summit County people kept asking me about the prostitutes in the
gamblers and my answer always was they weren’t all prostitutes and gamblers but
that got me thinking who were they was it a male-dominated
population as was said where’d they come from
United States across the pond how old were they what did they do when they got
here were they married did they bring their families and then of course I
started thinking about the women did they want to come did they have a choice
where did they come from did they come right away did they come with families
what was the social and economic environment that they faced when they
got here did they influence it did they change it so all of those things that
I’m going to try to cover some of it today and when you meet Ana Sadler
Hamilton you will hear how those things influenced her life so the first thing I
did was start reading all sorts of books that I could find articles small papers
to find out about more about the women so that I would know what to look for
when I was talking about Summit County then I turned my attention to the census
now the 1860 census was useless everybody was a farmer and everybody had
a Salt Lake City post office so they totally missed Summit County
1875 1880 great 1885 was a special census put on by the state of Colorado
thank goodness because there is no 1890 census everything has burned in a fire
so I had those three years but with any census of course you have some problems
you don’t know whether the data is factual
you don’t know whether it’s complete and you can’t read the writing no such thing
as a ballpoint pen or a computer and some of their writing was pretty bad so
of course you have to take it with a grain of salt and you hope that it is as
accurate accurate as possible one of the first things I learned was that with any
mass migration as this was there are push and pull factors push factors that
push the people out of their homeland and pull factors that pull them to the
new spot in this case Summit County so some of the push factors you can figure
them out poverty political oppression war famine flood drought earthquake
religious persecution adequate transportation to the new area
unemployment and what helped here 1857 there was a very severe depression and
it hit Pennsylvania in particular very hard in Pennsylvania pull factors
prosperity health climate happiness marriage family already in the area big
one and free land I also learned that it was the men who made the overture to go
west they said at first the women had really no say in the matter whatsoever
they reacted with agreement disagreement reluctance eagerness fear encouragement
opposition enthusiasm happiness or surprise and probably all of them and
few of them had any say in the matter at all and if you’re ever interested in
wanting to learn more about that whole thing that whole part of it Sandra
Dallas and her books for for one that is tremendous is true sisters and that
talks about the migration and if you ever want to read it wait till you get
to the last line I still think of the last line in that book and I burst out
laughing it is a killer but some others that were Summit County written
because she lived here quilt walk white as snow the last Midwife and prayers for
sale all sandra Dallas’s Summit County and it talks very much about the women
who were here and what their lives were like for most women leaving their family
and their friends behind was traumatic and most of them never stopped looking
over their shoulder toward home most of them could never forget what
they had left behind and it affected them very much okay let’s take a look at
some of the migrants what do we have here and I have to thank Simone for
putting all this together because I don’t know how to do a PowerPoint
PowerPoint PowerPoint either okay where did they come from native-born Colorado
the United States Summit County and you can see how those percentage has changed
over the years I’m not going to read them you can read them where did they
come from 1870 Breckenridge take a look
Pennsylvania New York and Ohio we must have want to get rhythm in Pennsylvania
there were so many Pennsylvanians out here they had a club for Pennsylvanians
no joke they did okay 1880 Breckenridge take a look but now
notice what’s happening to Illinois okay that hop skip jump as what a lot of them
did Breckenridge okay New York still Pennsylvania Ohio but now look at
Colorado the children had started arriving families were here okay we’ll hang on to that one okay
we’ve got the native-born in there and we’ve got all that but now let’s take a
look at the foreign board before we go into that one in 1860 where did the
foreign-born come from Canada Ireland Germany England and Scotland walking
down the street in Breckenridge you heard many different languages not all
English 1870 it was the Irish than the Germans and the Canadians but now if you
take England Cornwall Wales Ireland Canada put them all together
that was your leading sending area in 1860 1870 1880 so you had a lot of
British accents walking down the street there Gold Fever hit hard in London very
hard in London there were employment offices in London as well as in Cornwall
in Wales to get people over here the mines were playing out there get him
over here they could get jobs money British money was all over Summit County
Emily Pankhurst a women’s suffragette in London England was bankrolled by the
Wakefield mine south of Breckinridge and your sawmill now is on the Wakefield
mine so that is how she got her money for that so the investment was
tremendous that that they had ok organizations such as the Methodist
Church the Odd Fellows tell you about those migrants coming from that definite
definite area ok Germany there were so many Germans here in Summit County that
the laws of Colorado were written in English Spanish and German 1877 to 1899
mm-hmm that’s how many they were they came and brought their families they
wanted stability so they brought their families they wanted economic
development here so that they had a reason to stay they were not going to
come here and go home they intended to stay two years after the original
discovery of gold that was recorded 1861 two years after 1859 there was a German
singing society in Breckenridge 1880s you had the manor
madacorp man caught men’s choir and you had the Teutonic Liederkranz they had
libraries of music they had a paid director they put on concerts and they
talked about this in the newspaper how wonderful these concerts were the
Italians were here some they were hated they were not wanted they worked on the
railroad they were the trackage men on the railroad the hammers they used in
the railroad were called Dago hammers oh yeah and they were called day goes in
official correspondence from Summit County officials they were called day
goes on the newspaper four-inch banner headlines day goes head for pence Miller
Plaza they were met with by men with guns and they turned around took him out
again yeah so yes they stayed to work in the mines but they were not wanted the
group that was really not wanted with Chinese Chinese were called Celestials
and when this Chinese moved into an area it was considered that the area was in
decline so you did not want them here because they would work for lower wages
and you did not want anybody to know that there was somebody there working
for lower wages the newspaper editor said that if the Chinese were allowed in
the stores would sell cheaper goods the schools would empty and all of the work
for the last 20 years would be for naught so they were not wanted in the
least and of course the Chinese the idea was they were going to make their money
and they were going to go home and they were faulted for that but when you think
about it many of the people from the East Coast many of the men wanted to do
the exact same thing so a little bit of hypocrite there according to the 1860
census there were no Chinese in Colorado at all there was seven statewide in 1870
none in Summit County but by 1880 there were 19 in Summit County all of them
worked in laundries 1885 there were 21 and now 17 were in the mines two worked
as dishwashers and two were in the laundries
so they were not wanted now as a rule Chinese women did not come the ones that
were here were the prostitutes and very often they were bought as young babies
to come over and be the prostitutes they would train them to be prostitutes
or indentured get him over here to be prostitutes now eventually those Chinese
men they were here wanted wives so they married the prostitutes in 1885 leech in
age 25 I’m sorry I said that wrongly come at 25 married Lee chin at 52 and
they both worked in the laundry in Breckenridge
so now was she one of the prostitutes that he married because there was no one
else so the Chinese were hated okay so now let’s take a look the population and
see how much it was definitely a white Northern European ancestry so here you
have this you can see your dates and there’s some of your Chinese and in
Breckinridge Dylan 13 to 2 see how busy that woman was as far as taking care of
all the men cook clean wash iron okay and there’s Barney Ford I’m Breckinridge
Dylan’s getting bigger Frisco still an imbalance and this is
always interesting the ratio of men to women because of the early mining and
then how it tended to even out as the women started arriving 1885 and there
abouts yeah yeah they’re your frisco people
coming in there but you see the balance men to women you gotta turn my pages
here hook yeah the pyramids population pyramids
normally it was the young men who were not encumbered by families who were able
to come and take advantage of what was being offered here economically and
that’s what you’re going to see as you take a look at the pyramids age pyramids
you can see the male as opposed to the female over there
so 1870 okay my zuma again it’s that one area ages
taking advantage of the mining okay here’s the female side of it I had to
split it because where do you see the men and I had it even split that because
I couldn’t get it all on one yeah but there again now the time was passing so
now you were getting the older cohort their cohort into the 50s and the 40’s a
lot of those were the merchants – okay Montezuma say hey Breckenridge see now families
are coming children are coming notice younger ages mm-hmm yep young children
again okay now just as the prospectors the
other men had to set up their own economic and social environment the
women had to do the same thing when they arrived they wanted to counter the
drinking the gambling and the prostitution and in order to do so they
brought their Victorian values and those Victorian values clashed with the
environment the men had established but the women set up schools churches
libraries hospitals they had formal clubs for the women such as the degree
of Pocahontas the order of Eastern star the women of wood crafts the Rebecca’s
but they also had informal clubs a glee club a taffy Club a cooking club a
sewing Club a thimble Club a kitchen club a Shakespeare Club a literary club
a library Club a debating Club and that Club for Pennsylvanians so they had them
all in they wanted to again have this networking going on and they were very
involved in that the temperance movement arrived and it hit hard in Summit County
news the women had a meeting almost every night of the week and it would be
advertised in the newspaper the newspaper editor went along with this up
to a point and he finally got tired of this so he started writing some
editorials to counter the women and their temperance meetings they said your
saloon keepers here are some of your best citizens in town daiba
they pay their license fees they pay their wages and the wages are spent here
in the county they provide a service for the men they support community endeavors
and then he went on to remind people that the sheriff was a saloon keeper the
superintendent of schools with the saloonkeeper the mayor was a
saloonkeeper town treasurer was a saloon keeper and
where did the people keep their money not in the bank in the safes that were
in the saloons now the women were egged on by Methodist minister called Reverend
Florida Passmore and he must have been quite a person he kept trying to get to
saloons to close finally 1891 there was a law that closed
the saloons all day Sunday and they had to close Saturday nights at midnight
wallet in all nights of the week at midnight it didn’t go over too well and
here was his editorial last Sunday was the sunday of Sundays all the saloons in
town were closed and their usual habituates were compelled to loaf around
the streets miners in from the hills stood upon the sidewalks looking
wistfully to the right and left for some retreat from a condition of misery to
make matters worse the day was damp and dull the workings of law here was such
as to show the sheer nonsense of such litigation for a camp in the midst of
the mountains the law was conceived in the brain of a fanatic enacted by a body
of imbeciles signed by a doe face and in a camp like Breckenridge would be
enforced only by an impractical enthusiast Reverend Passmore wasn’t exactly liked
and one Saturday night when the men had nothing to do they borrowed a ladder and
found a few sticks of died and he puts a ladder on the wall of the
Methodist Church climbed up laid the 6th of dynamite and lit a match that was the
end of the bell in the Methodist Church and a few weeks later that was the end
of Reverend Florida Passmore but even though the women still they kept working
on but they really didn’t have that much to say about the prostitution and the
gambling and the drinking so for the women who were here employment outside
the home was kind of limited now women’s work was valued they needed women to do
the washing ironing cooking cleaning and that’s when many of the women had
boarding houses to take care of the men or they had boarders in their home to
take care of the men provide lunches for them and take care of them because that
was needed but you had other women one of them owned a millinery shop one owned
a candy store there was a stationary store owned by a woman restaurant
proprietor and a piano teacher now I mentioned the piano teacher because this
was the time when it was thought that if you want your daughter to find a
suitable husband she better know how to play the piano so the piano teachers in
this County were very very busy and I think of some of the other women when
Scott McClellan died he had this the the saloon in Breckenridge his wife opened
it as the cosmopolitan restaurant and she was very successful
Martha Whitney when her husband was killed in the pug ryan affair she ran
his Senate saloon in Kokomo and they said she was quite successful at it she
was able to maintain law and order and that’s alone Minnie Bruch advertised as
having the finest Valentine’s and the finest fresh fruit in this County on
Main Street in Breckenridge so the women were very much involved Katherine Rhodes
Sisler Nolan the Katherine rose from Pennsylvania married John Sisler and he
was one of the placer miners in French Gulch he had quite a holding he died so
she married Johnson Fleur he died there’s a pattern there
but she was one of them very most respected women and she ran that mining
empire in French cults until she decided to sell it so we had very strong women
around here that is for sure a few women entered the medical profession but
Breckinridge had a woman dentist the turn of the century so the women did go
into the medical field teaching was the one profession that everybody said
that’s for the women that was an extension of being a mother and they
wouldn’t mind the low salaries and yes they did get half of the salaries of the
men not in there yeah but the 1880 census listed nine
schoolteachers seven men and two women 1885 census listed for teachers and they
were all women so it was reckoned Ridge in many instances and the county
followed but in some cases they didn’t and it was always interesting as to how
they didn’t know now all these women were hemmed in by etiquette etiquette
was extremely important in everything they did one of the things we think of
crawling cards is being modern uh-uh there were catalogs of different kinds
of calling cards in the 1880s no women would get them and the newspaper would
print their names on them and if you went to visit another woman
you presented your calling card you knew who was in your social calendar social
circle by looking at the plate that you had right next to the door when you
walked in and there’s one sitting in the brittle house and on it are all sorts of
calling cards so mrs. Birrell knew who was in her social circle by the cards
that were in there now if she was home fine if not you left your calling card
and then she would be obliged to come visit you to return that favor so that
would there were many little things you didn’t go on a rainy day we might get
water on the floor from your dripping umbrella now I never did find out what
happened on a snowy day especially here but you never took you children never
and good if she would never have taken a pet a dog and somebody said oh my
goodness no that was vulgar and a man would never
stand with a foot like this so that the sole of his shoe would be up that she
could see the sole of his shoe etiquette walking down the street when you get to
a mud puddle one side up one inch not two sides that’s vulgar once I won it so
there’s so many rules and they knew all these rules they had to know all these
rules language of flowers they endowed flowers with certain emotions and these
women who knew these things for instance the amaryllis was temperance I’ve said
that wrong the Azalea was temperance the amaryllis was Pride Colorado state
flower is folly that surprised me folly the forget-me-nots was true love
then the Red Rose was love the Yellow Rose was friendship and the White Rose
was truth but they didn’t stop at flowers they went on to herbs and spices
so basil was hatred but sweet basil was good wishes so you better know the
difference mint was virtue a clothes was dignity and the one I really liked
lavender distrust and think how we use lavender today that surprised me but
they didn’t stop there either you had fruit and vegies okay you’re ready for
this mushrooms suspicion hares affection and
lettuce was a cold-hearted man so you had all these things then there
was the language of the fan and that was fun everybody knew the language of the
fan mm-hmm we’re being watched I love another I hate you
I love you yes no I’m married I’m engaged I want to talk to you and kiss
me now the fun of it was you knew what all that meant but you didn’t know where
it was going around the room and they had to figure it out who was getting
what message on all that went yes so it was the fun part and then the last one
there was the language of the stamps yeah now we put the stamp in one corner
right but in their time they had four corners they also had above the address
and below the dress in front of the address and behind the dress they also
put the stamp right side up or upside down they could also put it sideways or
sideways this way or half way in between all of them and each one had a meaning
and they knew the meanings so there were so many things that made life
interesting difficult and otherwise for for the women okay and now for our
special guest Ana Sadler Hamilton so I’ll tell you how I met her I was
finishing up the book they weren’t all prostitutes and gamblers I had the first
part written and I didn’t know how to end it I had no idea how to end it I
needed something to tie a bow around it and bring all these things together so
the last day of my deliberation I thought if I can’t do it today I’m just
gonna let it go for a while I went down to history Colorado and I asked for the
same folders I have asked for over and over and over hoping I would find one
little thing that would give me an idea and out came a box that I had never seen
before and in there were the Diaries and the
teaching certificate of Ana Sadler now her diaries were this big two years
of them and my eyes page after page of her for schoolteacher her writing was
awful and of course they had faded over the years and I could barely read them
but I don’t remember coming home that day because I was so excited because I
thought here it is I can put my whole book together with the story of Anna so
that’s how I met her so let’s get outta here this is squish from being in my suitcase
by the way okay hello I am Anna Sadler Hamilton I’m the
wife of the meat merchants in Breckinridge the meat market was on Main
Street in Breckinridge on the east side of main north of Lincoln it was between
bressler’s livery and the Grand Army of the Republic Hall almost right across
the street from the Chinese Laundry I’m from Illinois but my family is Irish so
is mr. Hamilton’s family our families knew each other in Ireland they migrated
together to Canada to ORMs town in Quebec they stayed there for a while
both of our parents were born in Canada and then they moved together to brendi
County Illinois which is kind of west southwest of Chicago I was a
schoolteacher I had a certificate from Grundy County I love teaching
get out bed in the morning I couldn’t wait to get to school because I loved
watch working with the kids and I loved watching the kids learn it was so much
fun it was my reason for being I just enjoyed myself so much but I knew when I
promised to marry mr. Hamilton did I have to leave all that and come to
Breckenridge and I didn’t know anything about Breckenridge wasn’t sure I was
gonna like it and I wasn’t sure about leaving my family wasn’t sure about that
at all but a promise is a promise so I stuck to it
I stopped teaching on January 30th to get ready for the wedding and all of a
sudden I had no reason to get out of bed in the morning no children no teaching
and I missed them so terribly oh he did was sit and so hate it so it’s not fun
it’s not challenging that’s all we did for a couple weeks
mr. Hamilton and I were married on February 11th 1885 in my parents house
now that was totally normal you didn’t get married in church you got
married my in your parents house or in a friend’s house I was really worried that
he wasn’t going to make it because there had been a terrible snowstorm in
Colorado and there had been a terrible snowstorm the day before the wedding I
was sure he wasn’t going to make it but he did he got there everything was fine
for the wedding and then I had to face the final packing and face leaving my
family the tears started to flow in the next morning when we got on that train I
tried to hold back the tears I didn’t do too well but we got on the train I saved
those goodbyes figuring some of those people I’d never see again the train ride was okay it wasn’t the
most comfortable thing but it was a heck of a lot better than walking across the
Prairie next to a covered wagon that a lot of women had to do in the earlier
years we made it to Denver and we got to Denver I fell in love with the city I
loved that place all the hustle and the bustle the people
in the streets the wagons the carriages and the construction going on buildings
that had four and five stories to them we didn’t have that in Grundy County I
loved it so I would go out during the day while mr. Hamilton was at his
meetings and I would explore a little bit around the hotel and then at night
after his meetings he would show me some of these special sights that were in
Denver and I just loved Denver but the day came I had to get on that little
narrow gauge train head for boria’s pass and Breckenridge well that little engine
started to climb it went up a hand up and up I thought
I’d never get to the top but we finally got the Boreas pass when we got to
boria’s pass the brakeman got out and set the brakes on every train car they
didn’t want the train to come down that was a four percent grade they didn’t
want the train to come down faster than five miles an hour if it had been a
runaway a train on a four percent grade would increase its speed double its
speed every 15 seconds you didn’t want that even so at five miles an hour I was
so scared I never thought we’d get out of there I’m sure we’d end up in a
snowbank somewhere and nobody find us till spring but we made it down and when
we got to the watson street station some of mr. Hamilton’s friends were there
greeting us as well as the newspaper editor the next day in the newspaper he
wrote mr. Robert Hamilton has arrived from a trip to the east where he took
unto himself a rib a rib I guess I didn’t mind being called a rib I made
friends very quickly but the problem was those women were older than I was I
won’t tell you how old I was but they were older and their families were here
my family was back there we lived in a little dwelling behind meat market I
wanted a house of my own but I knew we had to stay next to the meat market
because the business was very important and the women have that many of us would
get together almost every day we might just go shopping we just might talk we
might go for a walk go for wild flowers doing anything just to be together and I
usually enjoyed that usually but there were some times
mmm-hmm I remember writing in my diary that mrs. Fincher my wife of the
newspaper editor who called me a rib was horrid now I have no idea why I thought
she was hard that day but I wrote it in my diary that she is hard her mouth
never stopped going she had 12 children she talked and talked and talked and she
used to bring along her one daughter Mabel and Mabel would have been about 13
and I don’t know that I’ve ever met a more silly young woman than Mabel there
were some people that I really liked this is bunny had the women’s Emporium
on Lincoln Avenue and she was a little portly but she wore this big giant apron
when you come in this store and she was forever wiping her nose on the bag I
think she had allergies on the back of the apron she was so nice but then there
was mr. levy on Main Street he I went in there for
buttons one day and he was so nasty to me I wrote in my diary and I never went
back in that store again I tried to be the best wife that mr. Hamilton could
ever want I didn’t succeed but that’s okay I hated to so I remember making a
dress with the women it took forever and I know I never wore the dress I wrote in
my diary how I hated sitting there working on that dress I hated the clean
I’d no sooner clean up the place and then the wind would whistle and send in
the dust around the windows or somebody to come in with boots and everything was
dirty again and I remember hiring a woman to clean
and I could never remember how to spell her name in my diary
I spelled it differently each time and then there was cooking oh I tried to
cook I had all these cookbooks one of them had an arrest be for beavertail
calves brains squash pie and there was one I never did figure out it was pond
Lily egg salad didn’t try them but then there
was baking at this altitude did you increase the flower and decrease
the sugar or did you decrease the flower and increase the sugar did you bake at a
higher temperature for a shorter time or a lower temperature for a longer time I
never could remember I know I had some spectacular failures but I wrote in my
diary one day that I made a cocoa nut cake that was splendid so I must have
had at least one well done I could never figure out why my families didn’t write
to me I went to the post office every day looking for letters from home and I
wrote them every week without fail but they wouldn’t write to me and then
always made me feel so lonely if somebody was sick or if somebody had
hurt themselves in a letter and then I’d be worried until the next letter got
there now my sister used to get money every now and then she’d come out on the
train and I loved it and I have such wonderful time so she would go I’ll have
to go home and that was the end of that or mr. Hamilton would give me money and
then I could take the train back to Illinois and I loved that time too but
then I had to come back to Breckenridge and I think what I disliked about
Breckenridge most of all was the weather the thunderstorms in the summer that
would crash over the town which scare me half to death I’d want to go hide and
then there was the wind blowing in the windows and I was such a lonely sound
and that made me feel even lonelier and then the snow I remember telling mr.
Hamilton after one storm that lasted three days then if I had to live my
entire life in Summit County I hope as a short life didn’t like that I always
wanted mr. Hamilton to go places with me but his answer always was he had to stay
near the store now most of the merchants in town would sell cash only they would
advertise cash only no credit mr. Hamilton was
one of very few that did credit and one night I was working on his books with
him and I saw that a woman owed him a hundred dollars and that was a fortune
he never collected it she died yeah there was one time I wanted him to go to
a masquerade ball with me so badly I went alone
I made a costume out of summat daily the breckenridge journals newspapers
head-to-toe I got a prize for creativity a newspaper editor wrote about the next
day in the newspaper moon is Robert Hamilton’s well he was so pleased that
somebody thought to make a costume out of his newspapers in 1887 mr. Hamilton
sold the meat market we bought a ranch on the lower blue and
the newspaper editor called him the cattle baron then he also bought a huge
stock ranch in Nebraska well in order to take care of all that we had to move to
Denver and I finally got to leave Summit County and I loved it in Denver I was
back in the city I really liked well we came back to visit we came back the
newspaper editor would talk about mr. mrs. Robert Hamilton arriving on the
train to visit friends or mrs. Robert Hamilton and children coming to visit
friends and then one time mr. Hamilton drove his new automobile over the pass
and the newspaper editors said he was bitten by the Auto germ or the Auto
bacillus I was asked if I missed anything about living here I thought
about it for a while and yeah I remembered the blue skies sometimes
gorgeous blue skies I remembered the golden Aspen’s I remembered the
wildflowers and I remembered mr. Jacobs mr. Jacobs
owned the ranch next to ours in the lower blue every time mr. Jacobs would
see me he would call me the schoolmarm and that made me feel so good but did I
miss a howling wind are those thunderstorms in this summer or the snow
not a chance and that’s the story of Anna whatever
happened to her we don’t know we have no idea
can’t follow her in the census she’s gone and I’ve had all sorts of people
try to find her trained genealogists try to find her and nobody can find her and
I would love to write yeah so that’s the story battle any question I can oh
that’s a good question half half half Negro half white yeah yeah I have that
right don’t I yes yeah yeah yeah thank you for coming

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