Chaffee County Logo

Progressive Men of Western Colorado. c. 1905

Transcribed by Judy Crook

Charles Ankele

This worthy citizen and capable public official, who is universally esteemed throughout the county in which he lives, is the seventh sheriff elected there and has filled the office longer than any other. He was first chosen in 1897 as the candidate of the Silver Republicans, who fused with the Democrats against the Populists, and was the only candidate on their ticket elected except one county commissioner. Having at that time a decided leaning to the Republican party, he intended at the close of his first term to announce himself as its candidate for the next, but being forestalled in this by another member of the party, he declined to allow the use of his name in the convention of that party. Then, without his knowledge, the Democrats nominated him as their candidate for the office, and he was elected by a large majority. At the close of his second term he became the candidate of the straight Republicans and was again honored with an election and is now serving a fourth term. Mr. Ankele is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, where he was born on June 13, 1857. There he received his education, and at the age of eighteen went into the bridge department of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad. He remained in the employ of this company nearly four years, and then found a berth under the United States government as overseer of improvement work, rip-rapping, etc., on the Mississippi river at Plum Point, Tennessee. After about two years of this service, in 1881 he moved westward to Kansas, making the trip on a furlough. But liking the West, he determined to remain and resign his position under the government, and went to driving cattle from Texas to Montana over the trail, which he continued to do three years. In 1885 he bought a bunch of cattle which he brought to Chaffee and settled on a ranch eight miles east of Salida. There he engaged in raising stock until 1892, when he was appointed marshal of Salida. This office he held five years, and could probably have had it indefinitely if he had not been transferred by the votes of his fellow citizens of the county to the sheriff's office. On qualifying for this latter office the first time he changed his residence to Buena Vista, the county seat, where he has since made his home. He has made a very creditable and acceptable sheriff and his name as such is spoken with pride and pleasure by all classes of the citizens. But his life has not wholly been given up to politics here. He has large and valuable interests in mining properties in various places and other possessions of worth. In the fraternal life of the county he takes an active and earnest interest as an Odd Fellow, a Mason, a Knight of Pythias, a Woodman of the World and an Eagle, belonging to lodges of these orders at Salida. He is also a member of the order of Elks, holding his membership in that fraternity in the lodge at Leadville. On December 23, 1886, at Leadville, this state, he was united in marriage with Miss Maggie O'Neill, a native of Michigan.

George W. Armstrong

George W. Armstrong, now one of the leading merchants of Salida where he conducts a large drug business, has had a varied and interesting career since coming to Colorado in 1864, seeing many ups and downs in western life, tried often by prosperity and adversity and proving undisturbed by either, always finding a place for a new start when business failed and always making headway in the long run whatever the obstacles or the odds against him. He is a native of New York city, born on December 27, 1843, and in that city he grew to manhood and received his education. After leaving school he served five years in the banking house of Brown Brothers & Company, then, in 1864, started across the plains to Colorado during an Indian war which was then in progress. After a short residence at Denver he moved to Central City, where he passed nearly a year in mining, then returned to New York. There he was engaged in mercantile business until 1877, then returned to Central City, this state, and once more engaged in mining. He was unsuccessful and walked to Denver to seek other employment, his total capital on arriving in that city being ten cents. He soon found employment with the wholesale grocery of J.S. Brown & Company, and he remained in their employ three years, having risen to the position of traveling salesman before he left. In 1880, in partnership with DeWitt C. Demorest, he opened a grocery in West Denver, and within the same year was elected to the city council. After two years of business prosperity in Denver he moved to Cimarron, Montrose county, in 1882, and there opened a general store, with a branch at Sapinero, fourteen miles distant in Gunnison county. At the same time he started a similar enterprise at Debeque and another at Parachute. The Rio Grande Railroad was building through this territory then and business was brisk all along the line. But later Mr. Armstrong found his interests too extensive and diffuse for easy management, and he sold all his stores but the one at Debeque, which he continued to manage until 1900. He then sold it also and gratified a long-felt desire by spending several months in travel. While living at Debeque he was prominent in local politics as a Republican, and during most of the time he was either mayor of the city or an alderman. He was also for many years a justice of the peace. In August, 1901, he bought the drug store of E. M. Thompson at Salida, and after enlarging and remodeling the store engaged in the drug business on a large scale, and is still engaged in it. Fraternally Mr. Armstrong is a thirty-second-degree Mason, with the rank of past master in his lodge at Salida. He also belongs to the Elks Lodge there. On March 4, 1867, he was united in marriage with Miss Annie E. McIntyre, a native of New York city, where the marriage took place. They have one son, Douglas Armstrong, who is a locomotive engineer on the Rio Grande, and two daughters.

D.H. Craig

Nature, who seems often reckless and inconsiderate in the distribution of faculties of men, sometimes mixing them into a sort of incongruous and inharmonious union in the same subject, still, in the main, to the discerning eye, pursues a general system in her benefactions, and along with endowments for certain lines of activity gives the spirit and determination to engage in them with persistency. A forcible illustration of this fact is furnished in the career of D.H. Craig, cashier of the First National Bank of Salida, who although born to a destiny of rural life, it would seem, was well fitted by natural endowment for fiscal and mercantile affairs, and has given to them the whole of his energy and all his time since he entered upon the great theatre of human action as a young man. He is a native of Woodford county, Kentucky, where he was born on November 6, 1850, and where he received a good common-school education, remaining there under the parental roof until he reached the age of eighteen years. In 1868 he moved to Missouri, and during the next thirteen years was engaged in mercantile business at St. Louis and Linneus, that state. In March, 1881, he took up his residence at Salida, which was then a municipal infant of less than a year old, still wrapped in its swaddling clothes of tents and uncanny wooden buildings, but full of lusty life and promise. Early in its youth, first in 1886, and again 1888, it passed through baptisms of fire, and at once thereafter assumed the more ambitious habiliments of a city, erecting substantial brick and stone dwellings and other structures in place of its canvas and frame ones, and entering with vigor on the progress and development it has since shown. In this advance Mr. Craig, as one of its interested and progressive citizens has taken his part like a man and performed his duty with unwavering fidelity. Soon after his arrival in the town he and his brother, L.W. Craig, opened a dry-goods store under the firm name of Craig Brothers, which they conducted until 1885, then sold the business and started a private banking institution which they called the Continental Divide Bank, they being its sole proprietors. The next year Mr. Craig bought back an interest in the former dry-goods establishment, which then became the firm of Craig, Sandusky & Company, but he retained his interest in the bank. In the latter part of 1889 he and his brother converted their bank into the First National Bank of Salida, which was opened for business in January, 1890, and is now the oldest bank in the city. L.W. Craig was president and F.O. Stead cashier, D.H. Craig continuing to give his attention to the mercantile establishment. In 1891 he sold his interest in this and united with J.A. Israel in a real-estate business, with which he was connected until 1894. He then left the real-estate firm and went into the bank, first as vice-president and some little time later as cashier, a position which he is still filling with profit to the institution and credit to himself. Prior to this, in 1890, his brother retired from the presidency, and since then the bank has had several presidents, Robert Preston, of Salt Lake, filling the office since 1897. Under the management of Mr. Craig as cashier, the bank, which has from its start done an extensive business, has greatly enlarged its body of patrons and volume of trade, and has become one of the soundest and most valuable institutions of its kind in the central part of the state. Mr. Craig is also connected with the real-estate interests of the community as a member of the firm of Jones & Craig, and owns considerable property in the town and county, houses, lands and mining claims. Politically he supports the Democratic party, but he has never been an active partisan, finding plenty to occupy his time and faculties in his extensive business operations. Fraternally he belongs to the Masonic order, which he joined when he was but twenty-two years of age, and the Knights of Pythias, holding his membership in the latter in the lodge at Salida, of which he is the only charter member living in the city. On September 26, 1877, at Lexington, Missouri, he was married to Miss Laura S. Hollis, a native of that state. They have two daughters, Emily Wiles and Marie Rose.

Charles F. Johnson

The present efficient and obliging county treasurer of Chaffee county, who was elected on the Republican ticket in 1899 and re-elected in 1901, and whose record in the office has been a source of great satisfaction to the people, Charles F. Johnson, is a native of Ripley county, Indiana, born on August 1, 1856. He received his early education in the public schools of his native county, and finished his course at an academy in Butlerville, Jennings county. His father was a tanner and farmer, and while assisting in the work of the farm the son also learned the trade of tanning, spending four years at it after leaving school. In 1878 he came to Colorado, arriving at Canon City in March. Soon after his arrival he found employment at the state penitentiary in the outside work of the institution, gardening and similar pursuits, remaining there so occupied six years. In January, 1884, he returned to his Indiana home, and during the next five years he was engaged in merchandising in his native county. Selling all his interests there in the spring of 1889, he came back to this state and took up his residence at Salida, where he conducted a grocery until the spring of 1894. At that time he was elected city clerk and water commissioner, holding the office four years. From 1898 to 1900 he was again engaged in the grocery trade at Salida. In the fall of 1899 he was elected county treasurer, and at the close of his term in 1901 was re-elected, being in each case the candidate of the Republican party, which he has supported from the dawn of his manhood. After his first election to this important office he sold his grocery and moved to Buena Vista, the county seat, where he has since resided and been in the active discharge of his official duties. Under his efficient management many improvements have been made in the management of the office and its operations have been made more and more subservient to the convenience of the people. Mr. Johnson has always been an active party worker, and his interest in the success of the cause has been inspired by real and firm conviction of its righteousness, without primary reference to his own political advancement. Fraternally he is an Odd Fellow and a Woodman of the World. On September 30, 1880, he united in marriage with Miss Ella G. McCabe, a native of the same county as himself, where the marriage occurred, and living on the farm adjoining his father's. They were schoolmates in early life. Five children have blessed their union and brightened their domestic shrine, their sons Lester, Lovell and Delbert, and their daughters Flora and Leola.

William W. Roller

William M. [sic] Roller, one of the leading real-estate men of Salida, and who has been one of the most active and judicious promoters of the city's welfare, sticking to it and believing in its future through all changes and setbacks in its progress, is a native of Erie county, New York, born on November 1, 1841. He passed his boyhood and began his education in his native county, living there until after the beginning of the Civil war. In September, 1861, in response to a call from President Lincoln for volunteers to defend the Union, he enlisted in the Sixty-fourth New York Infantry, in which he served until his discharge at the end of his term in October, 1864, going in as a private and rising by meritorious service and gallantry to the rank of captain. He also received a commission as lieutenant-colonel, but quit the army before he rendered any service under it. His regiment was a part of Hancock's fighting Second Corps in the Army of the Potomac, and was almost continually in active service, participating in many of the great engagements of the war. After leaving the service he returned to his New York home, and there he taught school two years, then passed two at Dartmouth College as a student, intending to enter the medical profession. But in 1868 he determined to come west, and in the fall of that year took up his residence at Ottawa, Kansas, where he was engaged in the furniture trade ten years. Selling out in Kansas in 1878, he came to this state and located at Colorado Springs, where he again carried on a furniture business, continuing it there three years. In 1880 he disposed of his business at Colorado Springs and became a resident of Salida, which was then a new town, just laid out by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. It contained only a few houses, and its future was necessarily a matter of uncertainty. But Mr. Roller had faith in it and at once opened a furniture establishment and soon found his business assuming large proportions., and the town growing rapidly, although many persons believed that Poncha Springs, six miles west, would be the city of this region. In the fall of 1881 Mr. Roller sold his furniture business and turned his attention to dealing in real estate, having the first business of the kind in the place after the railroad company. That organization laid out that portion of the town between the railroad tracks and Haskell's addition. The latter was plotted by the Salida Land Company, which was organized by Mr. Roller and his partner in business, N.R. Twitchell, and of which they for years had the active management. The addition named now comprises the principal residence and much of the business section of the city, and has proved of great advantage in the spread of its dimensions. The first name of the place was South Arkansas, and was given to it by former Governor A.C. Hunt, who was connected with the railroad company and did its plotting here. But two years after he gave it this name the promising bantling was re-baptized and re-called Salida. The company organized by Mr. Roller has done an extensive business here and contributed largely to making the city what it is. That company planted the trees which so plentifully adorn it, erecting many of the most imposing buildings and provided for every necessity of the growing municipality as occasion required. It also advertised the place widely throughout the surrounding country and offered inducements for new settlers to make it their home. Mr. Roller has been from the beginning the active and inspiration of this company and he is almost wholly entitled to the credit for the great volume of its operations and the benefits it has conferred on the town. In 1884 he with others organized the Edison Electric Light Company of Salida, of which he has been ever since the vice-president. And in 1888 the Salida Opera House Association was formed with him as one of the principal stockholders and the secretary. The opera house is one of the finest buildings in the city. Mr. Roller is its manager. In every way he has been prominently and efficiently connected with the growth and development of the city from its birth. He is president of the board of trade, and was one of the founders of the Fairview Cemetery Association. He is also extensively interested in mining in this section, and owns valuable mining properties in addition to the large amount of real estate he possesses in the city. Although a stanch Republican in politics, he is not an active partisan. Fraternally, he is a thirty-second-degree Freemason, with an earnest enthusiasm for the good of the order, serving one year as grand high priest of the state, and also belongs to the order of Elks and the Grand Army of the Republic. On September 24, 1884, he was married to Miss Nellie H. Arnold. They have four children.

Gilbert A. Walker

Starting out in life at the age of sixteen with nothing but his native capacity and determined spirit, and since then steadily working his way forward by persistent energy and close attention to whatever duty lay before him, Gilbert A. Walker, one of the leading attorneys and counselors of Chaffee county, this state, has neither found nor inherited, but has literally hewed out his opportunities, and has made the most of them. He was born on April 1, 1866, near Burlington, Iowa, and while he was yet a child his parents moved to Seward county, in eastern Nebraska, and settled on a farm. Here the son grew to the age of sixteen assisting in the farm work and having almost no chance to attend school. When he reached the age mentioned he took his destiny in his own hands and by working for a period accumulated enough money to give him the longed-for opportunity for schooling, and after a few years in the public schools in the winter months was able to go through the State Normal at Emporia, Kansas, where he was graduated in 1892. During his vacations while attending this institution he kept himself provided by teaching school, and after finishing his course there he became a resident of Chaffee county, this state. Here he taught school at Granite until 1895, during one year of the period being also time and bookkeeper for the Twin Lake Placer Mining Company, and in two of the summers was connected with the United States geodetic survey in the state. In the fall of 1895 he matriculated in the law department of the State University at Boulder, and he was graduated therefrom in the early part of 1897. He then returned to Buena Vista and began practicing his profession. To this he has since sedulously devoted himself, and by close attention to business and ability in the discharge of it he has risen to the first rank in the profession in his part of the state. In the fall of 1901 he was elected county superintendent of the public schools as the candidate of the Republican party, of which he has always been an active supporter. He is also interested in the mining industry and has valuable claims in very promising properties. On September 13, 1892, he was married at Buena Vista to Miss Debby Mosher, a native of Illinois. They have four children, Vida, Verne, Helen and Daisy. In politics Mr. Walker has always been a firm and stanch Republican and is now editing the Colorado Republican, a weekly paper of considerable note.

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