Cripple Creek, Colorado

High atop the Rocky Mountains on the Western side of America's Mountain, Cripple Creek lies in a vast bowl created by Earth, Wind & Fire!
This has been my home for 20 years. I raised my kids here, built a ranch, raised horses and cows and assorted farm animals and buried my husband in the shadow of this Magnificent Mountain.
So, saddle up yer pony and ride along with me as I share some of my experiences riding trails and photographing my world in this, the most beautiful of spaces!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Museum Receives Skull; Cabins Ready for Viewing‏


*** For immediate release
March 14, 2010
Contact: Jan Collins
Museum Receives Skull; Cabins Ready for Viewing
On Christmas night of 1901, miner James Roberts stopped off for a drink at the Dawson Club on bawdy Myers Avenue in Cripple Creek. A few hours later, after his friends departed, Roberts exchanged some heated words with bar owner William Brooks. As Roberts turned to leave, Brooks came up behind him and gave the hapless man a good whack on the side of his head with a Colt .45 revolver. Roberts fell, hitting his head once on the heating stove and again when he hit the floor.
For the next hour, Brooks and his friends jeered at the injured Roberts. The man was urged to the bar for a drink as he lay dying, then was dragged to the back of the bar room as patrons continued drinking. Eventually someone thought to call a doctor, but it was too late. Roberts was dead by the time authorities arrived. Brooks and several witnesses were arrested.
Enter J. Maurice Finn, the illustrious lawyer who defended such notable characters as outlaw Bob Curry of the notorious Wild Bunch and worked for some of Cripple Creek’s millionaires. Finn decided the best defense was to prove Roberts had an abnormally thin skull and thus his client did not intend to kill Roberts by hitting him with a gun butt. Under dark of night, Finn convinced the coroner to saw the top of Roberts’ skull off so he could use it in his defense. The ploy worked. Brooks was acquitted, nearly mobbed by those who liked Roberts, and got out of town on the next train.
For over a century, the partial skull of James Roberts has sat in the Teller County Courthouse. It received brief notoriety in the 1970’s but was virtually forgotten until court reporter Lisa Sadler-Wheatcraft rediscovered it early this year. Research revealed Roberts was buried in Cripple Creek’s Mt. Pisgah Cemetery, but the location of his grave is unknown. Sadler-Wheatcraft worked with former attorney P.J. Anderson to relinquish ownership of the skull to the Cripple Creek District Museum for safe keeping. Roberts’ skull is now on display, with the Museum planning to bury it with its owner—if Roberts’ grave is ever found.
In other Museum news, the two cabins acquired last September are at last furnished and ready for viewing by the public. Donated by the City of Cripple Creek, the cabins were initially saved from demolition by City Engineer Jeff Miller. One is the former home of prostitute French Blanche LeCoq from the District town of Midway; the other is a typical miner’s log cabin from West Masonic Avenue in Cripple Creek. Each structure has been decorated to look as it would have when occupied, and a special ceremony on May 1 will include dedication of a plaque for Mr. Miller. The Museum would like to thank Mayor and First Lady Dan and Janida Baader, City Councilmen Gary Ledford, Milford Ashworth and Steve Zoellner, Karen Zoellner, Yvetta Ashworth, Carrie Miller, Jesse Bielz and his crew, Christina Whitmore of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, city employee Steve DiCamillo and his crew, Jeff and Missie Trenary, District Supply, The Lock Shop of Woodland Park, and everyone else involved in making this project happen.
Jan Collins
Cripple Creek District Museum
P.O. Box1210 ~ 500 East Bennett Avenue
Cripple Creek, Colorado 80813
719-689-2634 ~ 719-689-9540

Research Requests: Research is conducted by our limited staff and volunteers. The Museum respectfully requests a minimum $10 donation when requesting research. PayPal is available on the Museum website, or checks can be sent to the above address. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

The Cripple Creek District Museum is a private, not-for-profit foundation. Donations to the foundation are tax-deductible. Ask about our Friends of the Museum membership!

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