Click on Photo for a Musical Serenade
Click on Photo for a Musical Serenade
Ten-year old Mary Rose Matthews lost her mother as a very young girl. Her father, a Denver policeman, tried to care for her but was unable to. When he lost his job, he left his little girl in care of neighbors and took off. In April 1883, Mary Rose was taken to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum in Denver.
A few months later, in July 1883, she was adopted by Michael and Maggie (or Mary) Cuddigan, a ranching couple who lived about ten miles outside Ouray. Maggie’s brother, John Carroll, also lived and worked on the ranch, and the Cuddigans had a baby boy, Percival. Ouray’s itinerant Catholic priest, Father Robert Servant, brought the young girl to her new family.
Apparently unknown to Father Servant or the sisters at St. Vincent’s, Michael Cuddigan had a reputation as a drunkard with a violent temper. Over the next couple of months, neighbors noticed changes in Mary Rose’s personality. Instead of winsome, helpful girl that traveled from Denver, she became quiet and haggard. She was often seen with bruises. Unfortunately, nobody took action to find out what was wrong.
On a cold day in January 1884, Mary Rose’s already bad luck took a turn for the worse. On January 13, a hunter found the little girl poorly clothed and unconscious lying in a haystack near the ranch house. He took her to the Cuddingans and left. When neighbors came by the house to visit, the Cuddigans told them that Mary Rose was dead. They claimed she had fallen down some stairs.
The Cuddigans quickly buried the girl in a remote corner of their property. This finally aroused suspicion in the neighbors, and they notified the corner. W.W. Rowan, M.D., exhumed the small body and did a post mortem. Rowan’s testimony at the subsequent inquest horrified the community.
I reside in Ouray. Am 34 years of age and a surgeon and physician by occupation. Have made a post mortem examination on the body of a dead girl about 10 or eleven years of age, name unknown: unclothed the coyd and found both feet frozen, peeling off of the outer skin of both legs and both thighs, showing strong indication of having been frozen: the skin on lower half of right leg peeled off and on the right knee was a cut of two inches over knee cap and three wounds on left thigh with partial discoloration of the skin; on the left hand fingers have been frozen; several wounds on forearm, bruised elbow and considerable discoloration of arm: on the right hand her four fingers and thumb had been frozen completely to the second joint with number of wounds to the right arm; on the forehead a little to the left of center, found she had received a severe blow by some blunt instrument: also on the rear portion of head found a very large wound, about the size of a silver dollar, caused by some blunt instrument.
I opened the skull and found the posterior of the brain considerably engorged with a very large clot of blood weighing about 15 grains, which, to the best of my knowledge and belief, and from the impoverished condition of the body from treatment received, did cause the death of the deceased.
Several neighbors, although obviously too late to help the little girl, testified on Mary Rose’s behalf at the inquest. A man named C.R. Brandenberry said:
About eight or ten days ago I went to Cuddigan’s ranch for the purpose of hunting stray cattle. Saw this child on the hay stack; she crawled by [unreadable] her hands were [unreadable] up and she did not seem to notice anything; her face was bruised, also the back of her head. D.S.Duffield was with me: we thought she looked strange and spoke of it afterwards. It was a very cold day.
Another neighbor, L.B. Montgomery, testified: “I own a ranch about a mile and a quarter west of Cuddigan’s: went to his place about one month ago on business: saw this girl washing dishes: noticed she was acting strangely: Spoke of it afterwards: saw her face bruised; am nearly certain she was barefooted: she seemed very dull of comprehension.
The coroner’s jury ruled that Michael Cuddigan, Maggie Cuddigan and Maggie’s brother, John Carroll, had killed Mary Rose. Sheriff Rawles arrested the trio and held them under heavy guard a the Delmonico Hotel, which stood at the time on Main Street in Ouray between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. At the time, Mrs. Cuddigan was many months pregnant and “would soon have become a mother.”
During the investigation into Mary Rose’s death, the coroner opened the doors and allowed the public in to view the child’s battered and frost-bitten body. Not surprisingly–and perhaps for some out of a sense of guilt at their own inaction–feelings among the townsfolk ran high against the prisoners. In his usual style, David Day of the Solid Muldoon wrote scathing editorials against the prisoners. He was later accused of suggesting “that lynching was the proper thing to do.”
Several days later, on January 18th, just past midnight, a mob of masked men powered their way past guards at the Delmonico and took all three prisoners. A reporter described what happened next:
Guards had been posted [by the mob] at various points along the streets, and all who came out into the street were ordered to return, which they did. Mike Cuddigan and Mary [Maggie?] Cuddigan were hurried down Third Street, pleading and begging piteously for mercy until Tommy Andrew’s cabin was reached, where the avengers halted. The rope was placed around Cuddigan’s neck and he was swung up to the ridge pole of the cabin, while a small tree just across the road was converted into a gallows for Mary Cuddigan.
After lynching Michael Cuddigan, the mob took the pregnant Mrs. Cuddigan to the tree across the road and lynched her. This was the first time a woman was lynched in Colorado.
The fate of John Carroll was a bit less harsh:
After Cuddigan and his wife were strung up, John Carroll, a brother of Mrs. Cuddigan, and who had been charged with being one of the murderers of little Mary Rose Matthews, was taken in a buggy and driven several miles out of town. They then stopped and were soon joined by several others of masked vigilantes who rode on horseback. That the mob was cool and conservative and intelligent is shown in Carroll’s case. They had hung Cuddigan and his wife because they considered there was no doubt of their guilt. There was some question of Carroll’s guilt. However, they had taken Carroll to a more secluded spot where they would more fully investigate his complicity. Carroll pleaded piteously for his life. He said he was not at the Cuddigan ranch on the night of the murder, had not been there for several days, and could not therefore be held in any way responsible for the crime. He said he knew about the murder, but made himself an accessory after the act by keeping it quiet, simply for the protection of his sister.
Despite his pleas, the vigilantes strung him up. However, they had a change of heart and lowered him to the ground. Apparently deciding that the law no longer wanted him, they set him free on his word that he would never return to the area.
After the lynching, the mob put their handiwork on display in Ouray. The Leadville Herald reported, “The bodies of Cuddigan and wife were lying side by side today and were visited by hundreds of people. There features are terribly distorted, even showing that they had died a horrible death from strangulation.” Also on display was Mary Rose’s miserable bed, consisting of four sacks of gunny sacks basted together, nothing more. Both sides of the gunny sacks were blood stained.”
Newspapers reported that the Cedar Hill Cemetery refused to take the bodies. Michael Cuddigan’s brothers also refused to have anything to do with it. Finally, the coroner had the Cuddigans buried on their ranch.
A few locals spoke up in defense of the Cuddigans, saying that they were a well-known and respectable ranching couple. The Catholic priest, Father Servant, who had given Mary Rose to the Cuddigans, reportedly refused to officiate at the couple’s funeral. However, the man described as a “little French priest” spoke up sharply against the lynch mob. Folks in Ouray didn’t care for the rebuke, so they circulated a petition inviting him to leave. He refused.
Some folks were horrified at the lynching of a woman–particularly a woman in the advanced state of pregnancy. However, most were so disgusted by what had been done to Mary Rose that they openly approved of the lynching. This latter group included a physician who examined Mary Rose’s body. Dr. B.S. Tedmon wrote a shocking letter to the Fort Collins Courier:
While I believe in law and justice as the proper method to determine the amount of punishment to be inflicted for most crimes, I must surely claim, after a personal examination of the victim this morning…I can now see how the people of Ouray were justified in hanging the Cuddigan fiends. And I believe could you have stood with we and seen the lacerated, bruised, cut, and frozen form of the once beautiful and innocent child, you would say that hanging was too easy, too mild a punishment for such wretches.
Tedmon went on to describe Mary Rose’s injuries in horrifying detail, concluding the description with, “And to this the fact as given by several physicians upon examination that the child had been outraged by Cuddigan himself.
The Denver News echoed other statements made by Dr. Tedmon, that the act of the lynch mob was in direct response to the fact that the justice system in Colorado wasn’t sufficiently strict:
The cure, in a large measure rests with our courts and juries. They have been too lax in the judgment of men who have committed murder. Not one conviction for murders in the first degree has been recorded in this Sate for fifty cold-blooded murders committed. A feeble prosecution, a strong defense, and an easy-going jury can always be relied upon to save a murderer from the gallows under the present system of administering the criminal code in Colorado.
Mob violence is dangerous and disgraceful to the State, but it is encouraged, and to the unthinking, it is in some measure justified, by the failure of the justice in our courts.
Mary Rose was briefly reburied in Ouray but was once more dug up and carted off to Denver, where her decaying remains were once again put on display for the gawkers of Denver to see. Finally, little Mary Rose was put to rest in Denver.
No one was ever arrested for the lynchings.
Percival Cuddigan was raised by Michael Cuddigan’s brother, Henry. Michael and Maggie Cuddigan’s estate was put in trust for the boy. The 1900 and 1910 census records show him living in Ridgway with his cousin Charley Kelley.
In 1902, the St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum in Denver burned down. All two hundred children were rescued.
Over the years, a number of area residents have reported the sight of a beaten waif of a girl, usually alongside a road or near a barn. But when they tried to reach out to her, she always disappeared.
|View of Ouray (Ouray County), Colorado. Shows dirt streets, the Beaumont Hotel, the school, houses, commercial and civic buildings. A sign reads: “Del Monico.” The Amphitheater, a glacial cirque, is in the distance.|
– David Rockefeller
ShadowRing will offer an academic, objective review of the history of The Council on Foreign Relations (America’s hidden Oligarchy) and their objectives such as:
“The purpose of life is to do the best with what you have. The value is found in how well you handle each situation, each moment.” #JeffLowe (imperfectly quoted) from the #metanoia film which I viewed last night with 250 other rapt viewers in #Ouray. Thank You Jeff for all the inspiration.
Here on a summit in my home mountains a few days ago, searching for my own metanoia moment. Aren’t we all?
One of the old stage routes in Ouray region was the run between the Camp Bird Mine and Ouray. Sometimes called the Sneffels stage, it operated every day except Sunday. Known to carry a treasure box full of gold bullion from the Camp Bird mill, it ran without incident for a year before it proved an irresistible draw to bandits. On Monday, October 2, 1899, the stage stopped at the mill and picked up two days of output bullion, worth from $6,000 to $10,000 ($153,000 to $254,000) depending on how you calculate inflation. James Knowles of the Camp Bird accompanied the bullion, and a second guard, Pat Hennesey, rode behind on horseback. W.W. Almond drove the stage. As usual, they stashed the loot in an iron box beneath the driver’s seat.
The stage hadn’t been going long when a man jumped out from a bank of willows and pointed a Winchester at the stage driver, commanding him to put up his hands. A second man materialized in front of Hennesey’s horse and ordered him to dismount. Although Hennesey had a .45 revolver hidden inside his coat, he found opportunity to use it.
The bandits both wore slouch hats, and their clothing were smeared with dust. Black masks with large eyeholes covered their faces. They ordered the three men to lie down with their faces in the dirt. The first bandit stood guard while the second rummaged through the stage. He grabbed mail pouches and baggage but somehow failed to get the gold. It wasn’t clear whether he couldn’t get the box opened or simply believed Almond’s story that they weren’t carrying any bullion that day.
The bandits told the men to get back on the stage and take off. Then they stole Hennesey’s horse and rode away with the mail pouch and minor items from the stage. Later, a man in the area reported that he was robbed of his horse around that time by two masked in in ann excited frame of mind.
As soon as the victims reached Ouray, the called backed to the Camp Bird and Revenue mines. Though everyone was relieved that nobody was hurt and the bullion was safe, posses quickly formed at the mines and headed off in pursuit. The victims had seen the bandits head in Edgar, Under-Sheriff McQuilken and City Marshal O.C. Van Houton in Ouray also formed posses.
Camp Bird manager J.W. Benson offered $1,000 reward for the apprehension of the bandits. Inspired by the reward, numerous miners and mill workers in the region quit work and took off in search of the robbers.
That same evening, the Camp Bird posse located the highwaymen camped at Yankee Boy Basin. A gunfight ensued, but the bandits escaped. It was dark, and the posse pursued only briefly.
The next day, Sheriff Edgar and his men spotted the fugitives eleven miles from Ridgway. The posse gave chase, and a running fight ensued, with both parties shooting each other. The two bandits made for a tree-covered mountainside, but a horse stumbled and fell, dumping a bandit and his rifle. The man managed to mount again quickly and he vanished among the trees again, leaving behind a broken Winchester. He still apparently had a six-shooter. The bandits separated and disappeared.
A different version of this escape had a horse and rider making a suicidal leap into a box canyon and vanishing. This story came from the editor of the Silverite-Plaindealer, F.J. Hulaniski, who went into great detail describing this own heroic entry into the chase, a daring adventure during which he was pitched off his mount, making a “hasty visit to the clouds.” With unabashed enthusiasm, he described his horse as a “cross between a trick mule and a Texas bronco, [sic]” who “turned forward and backward somersaults [sic] with much ease, pitched in all languages, come down stiff legged like an educated steam pile-driver, and went out of one fit into another.”
Apparently, despite the less-than-spectacular haul of of robbery, just about every able-bodied male in the San Juans had set out to join the fun of chasing these bandits.
The Silverite-Plaindealer went on to describe a Tuesday night spent standing guard duty “without closing an eye or moving from one post assigned by the sheriff, who, with all the others, did likewise. The night was dark and cold, mountain lions, wolves, and wild cats prowled and yelled, the and taken as a whole was no picnic.” In a perplexing contradiction, the Ouray Herald reported on that Tuesday, Edgar and his posse gave up the search and headed back down the mountain to refresh themselves with some hot supper.
Meanwhile, the stagecoach driver, W.W. Almond, also a member of some posse or other, had told authorities that he believed he recognized the voice and clothing of one of the bandits as a young man known as Ouray as “Kid Adams.” He said that, prior to the robbery, Kid Adams had been hanging around the village of Sneffels (today a ghost town) with another man, acting, “in a very suspicious manner.”
On Thursday, the bandits were still scarce. Mr. Benson of the Camp Bird declared he would spare no expense in their capture, and local papers reassured their readers that the highwayman were cornered. A chorus of voices declared that they would take the men dead or alive.
By Friday, the second bandit had been identified as Ed Perry. Before switching to stage coach robbery, Perry had been painting the Camp Bird boarding house. He had also worked as a painter in Silverton and other San Juan towns. Papers reported that he was known as an OK fellow and that his partner had turned him bad.
Kid Adams also went be the name of John Carter. The Silverite-Plaindealer described him as “young, small in stature, and an all-round tough character, desperate, unscrupulous, and possessing the nerve of a hardened pirate.” He has also been working at the Camp Bird as a laborer on the mine dump, a job that presumably gave him opportunity to case the area.
At some point during the next few days, Ed Perry appeared at a place called Netherely’s ranch where he ate supper and spent the night. A posse nearly nabbed him, but he heard them coming and escaped. Two ranch hands followed him to the Montrose area and notified the authorities. Meanwhile, a Montrose sheriff encountered Perry at a creek with the latter was cooling his heels, literally, in the fresh mountain water. The sheriff did not arrest him, a story that inspired much irate grumbling among Montrose citizens. When the sheriff returned later with reinforcements, Perry had gone. The Montrose sheriff’s department later defended themselves, saying the sheriff did not know who Perry was when he first encountered him.
By Saturday, the reported value of the gold that the robbers overlooked had nearly doubled.
That same day, the saga turned much more serious. Deputy Sheriff George Kinchen of the San Miguel County wired Sheriff Edgar, asking him about the reward and requesting an arrest warrant for Adams. Several days later, he sent the following wire: “I have killed John Carter [Kid Adams], will be in Placerville tomorrow morning with the body–answer if I shall ship remains to Ouray.”
Before taking his last breath, the Kid had told Kinchen his name was John Carter and that his parents lived in Texas. The story that later emerged that he wasn’t John Carter from Texas but Walter Adams from a local family. His father was identified as the late James S. Adams, a prominent cattleman who had run a ranch located between Montrose and Delta.
After some delay, the body finally arrived in Ouray. Newspapers reported gruesome details about the condition of the Kid–that he was “shot clear through the middle of the body, and the whole top of the head is shot away by a revolver ball.” Deputy Kinchen described what happened for several reporters. He said he learned that the Kid had been spotted heading down Disappointment Creek in San Miguel County. Kinchen followed that trail to Jim Mair’s cattle ranch on lower Disappointment, which is where he found him, apparently working with Mairs.
Kinchen approached the ranch house and chatted with the men, pretending to be looking to buy some cattle. Mairs invited him in for supper and to spend the night. The Kid was watching him closely and Kinchen noted that he was armed.
At some point, Kinchen confided his intentions to one of the other men. Around ten o’clock at night, he judged the time right, pulled his gun on the Kid and told him to surrender. The Kid jumped away and pulled his gun, and the two men began firing at each other. During the gunfight, Kinchen and the other two men fled the cabin, leaving the Kid alone inside. Half an hour late, the men outside heard a shot.
They waited until the next morning before entering, when they discovered the Kid had shot himself in the head.
The coroner held an inquest and officially confirmed Kinchen’s story.
Despite the coroner’s ruling, rumor quickly circulated that Kinchen had murdered the Kid in cold blood. Folks complained that Walter Adams was only twenty-one years old and from a respected Colorado family. The Aspen Tribune also reported Undertaker James Pierson of Ouray as saying, “I have given the cause of death, murder. This is my privilege. The Kid didn’t get any money; neither did he kill anyone and he was shot in the back. His hair was not burned by powder. He did wrong but he should have been taken to Cañon City alive instead of dead.”
Dr. Hamilton Fish, who examined the body, said that a piece of the brain and skull were missing and attributed this to an autopsy, though no autopsy had been held. The Aspen Tribune reported a rumor that someone had tampered with the body to conceal the fact that his skull had been crushed, though it wasn’t clear why someone would do that.
Kinchen admitted that his bullet had hit the Kid in the back and come out the stomach. He responded to the attacks with this indignant offer: “Who dares say I killed the Kid in cold blood? He can meet me at any time with any weapon and have it out.”
Kinchen did have his supporters; some insisted that the Kid was a “tough character’ and would have killed Kinchen if he could. In Ouray, according to the Silverite-Plaindealer, “Some irresponsible idiot went so far this week as to post notice on a telegraph pole near the post office offering ‘$1,000 reward for the scalf pf Mr. Benson and $1500 reward for Deputy Kinchen, dead or alive. Marshal Van Houten very properly tore it down.”
Either way, Kinchen collected his reward and quickly left town.
A couple of months later, A Telluride Journal reported said he had spoken to a man who was in the Disappointment cabin at the time of the shooting. The unarmed man told the reported that it was the “merest accident that Adams didn’t get the deputy” and that Adams fired first. Adams had also apparently boasted about robbing the Union Pacific the previous summer and that he had shot a Wyoming sheriff.
On Saturday night, October 14, 1899, twelve days after the robbery, the stepmother of Kid Adams, Mrs. Lucy Adams Whipple, arrived in Ouray to take charge of the remains. Walter’s mother, Emma Frazier Adams, had died when he was very young, and his father had remarried when Walter was seven. The father, James Adams, had died a few years earlier, and Lucy kept in her care the remaining Adams children, two of whom were hers. In June 1898, Lucy Adams married Don Whipple.
Apparently overcome with grief over the death of her stepson, she described him as a “reckless, good-hearted fellow, with a dare-devil disposition, and has never been in serious trouble but once before.” She admitted he held up a stage in March 1898 at Meeker at Routt County. Drunk at the time, Walter made the driver dance and sing and drink whiskey before Walter took off empty handed, having made no attempt to actually rob the stage. Authorities arrested him but let him go because he was so young.
Lucy Whipple took his remains to Cañon City where one of his relative was a retired Baptist preacher. Walter was buried beside his parents.
While all this was going on, another young man of quite a different sort involved himself in the Kid Adams story. Dr. Alexander J. McIvor-Tyndall, dubbed the “highest authority on science” of palm reading and author of an upcoming book on the subject, had been giving private readings in Room 24 at Ouray’s Beaumont Hotel. He was described by an enthusiastic Ouray reporter as “a man of superlative intelligence, a bright conversationalist, and a deep thinker on scientific subjects.”
The Silverite-Plaindealer hired McIvor Tyndall to do a reading on Kid Adams. The palmist took an impression from the dead man’s hand, which was printed in large form on the front page of the paper. The scientist first offered several remarks about the shape of Walter’s nose, forehead and earlobes, which apparently indicated that he was a desperado. As for Walter’s palm, “the head line…is short, erratic, crooked and indirect. It is much like the headline of a natural lunatic. Dr. McIvor-Tyndall went on to make a dire prediction about the late Walter Adam’s fate: “A distorted and intense imagination, a misdirected ambition and an unreasoning will are the prominent features of this hand. But the unfortunate position of the lines of life, head, and heart presage grave misfortune.”
There were no further notices about the fate of the other robber, Ed Perry.
Mill at the Camp Bird Mine, shown here in 1940. The Camp Bird cranked out plenty of temptation for bandits.
ShadowRing will offer an academic, objective review of the history of The Council on Foreign Relations (America’s hidden Oligarchy) and their objectives such as: