From Coffee County, TN to Cripple Creek, CO

By Shirley Farris Jones

Harvey Calvin Neese was born in Armstrong County, PA on May 5, 1866. He was the first son born after the Civil War ended to John Neese and Mary Ann Emery Neese. Along with his father-in-law, George Emery, John had served in Company M of the 2nd Pa Cavalry, 59th Volunteers. Calvin had two older brothers, George F., born Nov. 16, 1859 and Jacob E., born Sept. 3, 1861. There would be one more son born in Armstrong County, Pa -- William E., born July 19, 1867 -- before the family relocated to Coffee County, Tennessee the next year. Two more brothers, Arthur Monroe, born May 10, 1869, and Robert S., born May 25, 1871, and three sisters, Kate, born April 30, 1873, Mattie, born May 6, 1875, and Mary , born June 11, 1878, would follow before their Mother died, apparently in childbirth, on July 3, 1880.

John Neese and his family came to Tennessee in 1868, along with his in-laws, George and Catherine Hillard Emery. Both families appear on both the 1870 and 1880 Census Records of Coffee County, TN. It is also known that George Emery owned a farm of one hundred acres in Armstrong and Jefferson counties, PA which he sold before coming to Coffee County, Tennessee, where he purchased 125 acres, near the Prairie Plains area. Although this is contrary to family folklore, census records confirm both families existence in Coffee county in both 1870 and 1880, and does not show any evidence of their being present in Armstrong Co., Pa. in either census. After Mary Ann Emery Neese died in 1880, George lived three more himself, dying in 1883, in his 68th year. Catherine Emery had been helping John Neese care for his children during this time, but upon his remarriage to Ann Landers, a short time later, she subsequently sold the land in Coffee County and returned to Redbank Township inArmstrong County, PA., where she purchased 5 acres from her other son, Jacob. Calvin would have two step brothers, Hardy, born Oct. 7, 1885 and John, born October 26, 1890, and one step sister, Minnie, born May 19, 1889, from this second union.

In the 1890ís, the financial situation in Tennessee was not all that good. There was a "panic" during that time, and money was in short supply. When gold was discovered out west, it is not surprising that the four Neese boys would get a touch of the fever. Jacob, Calvin, William, and Arthur headed west! In the mid 1890ís thru the turn of the century, Jake, Cal, Will, and Art worked the mines in and around Cripple Creek, Colorado, two of which were the "Clara D" and "Abe Lincoln Mine." From 1902-1905, Cal, Art, and Will shared a house together at 132 W. Warren. It was in the area known as Poverty Gulch, near the mines, and there were many minerís shacks located in this area, although none remain today. As the gold fields played out, Jake and probably Will went even further west and it is known that Jake was in California at the time of the earthquake in 1906. Art and Cal remained in Colorado. Cal married Myrtle Parker on January 30, 1907 in Victor, Co. He was 37, she was 28. From 1912-1913, Cal and Myrtle lived at 410 Colorado Avenue in Cripple Creek, an affluent street of Victorian homes, at the top of a hill overlooking the town. The lot is vacant at 410 where Cal and Myrtle lived, but the one next door remains today. And it was during this time that he became the Night Marshal of the City Police Force of Cripple Creek, Co, and this was where he died on July 3, 1920, shot to death by a friend, Will Sloan, who had had too much to drink.

The following article was picked up by United Press and carried in the Fort Collins Courier front page story on July 3, 1920:

Cripple Creek, July 3. William Sloan, well known character here is in the city jail today awaiting the outcome of injuries inflicted on Cal Neese, a night marshal, who was shot thru the chest, when he arrested Sloan last night. According to witnesses, Sloan had been on a spree and went down town last night carrying a 45 revolver. After striking Michael Heslin over the head with the butt end of the revolver, Sloan encountered Marshal Neese on Bennett avenue. When placed under arrest by the Marshal, Sloan whipped out his gun and fired two shots, one penetrating the marshalís chest. Neese took Sloanís gun away but immediately collapsed. Physicians say Neese has a slight chance of recovery.

On Sunday, July 4, 1920, the Colorado Springs Gazette ran the following story:

Night Police Captain Dies From Wounds Received While Making Arrest
Carl(sic) Neese, night captain of police at Cripple Creek, died yesterday morning at 9:50 oíclock from gunshot wounds sustained during an altercation with William Sloan, miner, when he attempted to arrest Sloan on charges of drunkenness and carrying a concealed weapon. Neese was shot Thursday night. From the nature of the wounds it was apparent that they would result fatally within a few hours.

It was reported by Cripple Creek officers that Sloan had obtained a quantity of liquor and that he had expressed himself as being prepared to "shoot up" the town. Neese, hearing this report, started out to make the arrest. He approached Sloan and told him he was under arrest, but the miner turned and shot twice at the officer, fatally wounding him. Sloan was then taken into custody and will face charges of first degree murder. Sloan, who has lived in Cripple Creek all his life, has a brother who was formerly a conductor on the Short Line between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. (Note: There are two mistakes in this article: "Carl" should be CAL and he was NOT SHOT ON Thursday night but around 2:00 a.m., on the morning of July 3, the same day he died, based upon another report that he died "seven" hours after the shooting.)

And another newspaper report from the Weekly Ignacio Chieftan of La Plata County, Co on July 14, 1920 gave these details: "Harvey C. Neese, night Marshal of Cripple Creek, was shot through the lung at Cripple Creek by William Sloane, former City Fireman, and died in the Sistersí Hospital seven hours later. Sloan is in jail charged with the killing. The shooting took place in the middle of the main business street. Sloane, it is said, was under the influence of intoxicants and was causing a disturbance."

It is known that Sloane (or Sloan) was convicted of this killing and served time in the Colorado Penitentiary at Canon City, Co. for his crime. His inmate Number was 11125. An article from the Akron Weekly Pioneer Press (Akron, Washington County) on November 19, 1920 stated: "A jury in the District Court at Cripple Creek returned a verdict finding William Sloane, 33 years old, guilty of murder in the first degree and recommending life imprisonment Ö ."

Calís body was taken to Denver, where he was buried on July 7, 1920 in the family plot purchased by his brother, Art, in the Crown Hill Cemetery in North Denver, "overlooking the city to the east and the majestic mountains to the west." Crown Hill Mortuary records show that Cal was number 8,403 to be buried in this cemetery. Arthur and his wife, Verdie, owned A.M. Neese Dry Goods, Notions, Furnishings in Denver, located at 3970 Tennyson Street, which was just across the street from Verdieís familyís Hardware Store, Clay and Haughey, established in 1906. Art died there on May 2, 1942 and is buried beside his brother. Verdie would join her beloved husband five years later. Of the four Neese brothers who came to Colorado near the turn of the century, Calvin and Author remained and Will and Jacob returned to Tennessee. Both appear on the 1920 Census Records, and both of them would die in Tennessee, Jake in 1939 and Will in 1940.

Authorís Note: Calvin Neese was my great-uncle. His younger sister, Mary Neese married Dr. John Kennerly Farris, Jr., a neighbor who had just completed Medical School in 1899, and these were my grandparents. My father was the youngest of four children, born in 1914, and I grew up hearing the stories of his uncles and their adventures out west. He had first-hand accounts from "Uncle Jake" who spent a great deal of time with his nephews and never tired of re-living those exciting days. My husband and I were in Cripple Creek a short time ago, and it was an awesome feeling as we were walking down Bennett Avenue to know that this was where my great-uncle had fallen almost 90 years ago.

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To view photos of the Neese brothers, Harvey Calvin Neese, and one of "Cal" and his wife, go here

Copyright 2009 by Shirley Farris Jones
Copying for personal use is permitted. Copying for commercial purposes, or to use on a web site--whether free or for pay--is prohibited without the express written consent of the author.

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