Gold Dust Used to Purchase Flour and More in Colorado

Pioneer uncle learned typesetting at a young age, and he sold flour for gold dust in Pikes Peak gold rush.

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My aunt and her twin brother were the great-grandniece and -grandnephew of President Andrew Jackson. These pioneer twins were small people, and they worked hard, but they outlived many people who probably had a much easier life. My aunt lived to the age of 104.

The twins were born in Ohio in 1842 and moved to Illinois when they were quite young. There my uncle learned typesetting when he was so young he had to stand on a box to reach the type case.

During the mad Pikes Peak gold rush in 1863, when everything in Colorado was paid for in gold dust, my aunt, a small woman who weighed scarcely 100 pounds, drove an ox cart across the plains from Illinois to Denver carrying a sick husband and a baby. She walked a good share of the way, leading the ox team.

This ox cart was a part of the Barber Train. Though they never were attacked by Indians, they came across two still-burning ruins of trains just ahead of them and saw the dead bodies of fellow pioneers.

Denver, at that time, consisted of only a few scattered buildings and tents. My aunt started a tavern and one of her boarders was the Ute Chief Colorow. Her husband freighted across the plains from the Missouri River until the railroad took over in 1871.

My uncle bought a load of flour at St. Louis and hauled it with a team of oxen. When he arrived at Denver, the town was out of flour and there was a mad rush to buy it. Some was paid for in gold dust that had to be weighed. When he quit freighting he helped print the first edition of the Rocky Mountain News.

Amy C. Shaw
Mound City, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.