25-50-100 Years Ago
A political mystery of sorts came to light over a lawsuit filed against a local bank by a local man over a host of matters. The reporting of this tangled mess carried across several days.
Ever since the unprecedented resignation of two commissioners in this county there has been much guessing as to the cause of [J.S.] Stewart and [John] Harkins stepping down and off the board … Many guesses were made as to the amount of money involved in the deal but it seemed to be generally conceded that Stewart received a check for $500 and Harkins got his to the tune of 350 yellow boys [dollars] … Suffice it to say that Stewart and Harkins betrayed their trust and resigned and as a result have lost all semblance of manhood in the estimation of the Democrat …
Yesterday M.H. Callahan, who has at all times been considered to be the man that secured Stewart’s resignation started suit against the State Bank of Aspen for the sum of $250 … Read [the court stenographer’s notes of the resulting trial] and mayhaps you will see just how the deal was pulled off …
The issue at hand appears to have at least partly involved the county’s deposit of public money in the bank, and the bank’s concerns that a new, Republican commissioner to be appointed by Gov. Buchtel might move to switch those funds to another bank. Among the statements reported by the court stenographer:
Attorney: Was the bank manipulating that commissioner business or Mr. Lyster [apparently an officer of the bank and a mining man]?
Callahan: It was the bank, he [Lyster] said … He told me he heard they were about to purchase a county commissioner (that the Republican party was) and that they would remove the funds from his bank if they were not headed off … they would appoint a man who would take the funds … and place them in the new bank and that they [the State Bank of Aspen] couldn’t afford that.
The mission apparently was successful, as an attorney asked Callahan:
Attorney: You got a new commissioner appointed there [during a trip to Denver in December 1907] at that time, did you not?
Callahan: I believe Mr. Lyster did and Mr. Moffatt [a state legislator at the time apparently acting on behalf of the bank].
Plus, in an indication of how politics was handled in those days, an attorney asked Callahan, regarding the resignation and appointments:
Attorney: Do you know who paid for it [the resignation of Stewart]?
Callahan: I don’t know. I don’t believe it was paid for, to know it. They say it was $5,000 paid for it, but I don’t know.
The judge in the case ultimately awarded Callahan $190, rather than the $250 sued for, withholding the amount Callahan said he was due for his part in going to Denver to influence the appointment of a new county commissioner.
… the judge evidently believes that when a man goes into a piece of dirty work he should get his price before the deal is pulled off and not expect a court to uphold hi[s] jobbery and skullduggery.
There is a nice little moral to be drawn from this suit … in the future, nominate men that are men and Democrats; men that will not sell their soul for $$$; men that will be true to their trust … who can look any man in the eye and tell him to go to Halifax.
In other news, the paper noted that work would resume on the Montezuma mine up Castle Creek.
When bad weather set in last fall all outdoor work was suspended, leaving the tramway uncompleted. It was fully expected that with the disappearance of the snow this season, the tram would be completed and the mine and mill started up with a full force of men, but operations have been deferred until the present time … it is now understood that necessary repair and preparatory work will begin at once.
Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.
In a town where filling stations have disappeared to make way for expensive boutiques, restaurants and office space, the city was faced with the unusual request to convert four lots at the corner of South Second and West Main streets into a service station.
Under the present zoning restrictions this property is in the Tourist District which permits hotels, rooming houses, clinics and clubs, etc, but does not permit stores, gas stations, lumber yards or other business establishments … Sitting on the Board of Adjustment to consider the petition will be Chairman Gene Mason, Paul Ebstrup, Albert Bishop, Fred Glidden and Bill Field.
Back in the days before Colorado became a media Mecca, with uncounted new print and broadcast outlets sprouting up everywhere, the small number of newspapers around the state paid close attention to one another and occasionally sniped at the other’s headlines, as in the following exchange.
An editorial in the July 31 issue of The Aspen Times about the controversial Frying Pan-Arkansas Diversion Project [meant to take water from the Western Slope and send it to Front Range cities] was the subject of an editorial in The Denver Post this week. Calling the Times the “militantly opposed Aspen weekly,” the Post pointed out that the measure [to enable the Fry-Art project to move ahead] was not twice before defeated on the [full U.S.] House [of Representatives] floor as stated in the Times. Aspen Times editors regretted the mistake but sniped back, “The fact that the House [committee] voted twice not to consider the bill [by sending it up to the floor] is indicative of what the representatives must have though about it.”
A half-century ago, the Colorado Highway Department [now the Colorado Department of Transportation] announced it would be building a new entrance to Aspen.
The [agency] has the funds and will construct a new bridge over Castle Creek within the next year, [said] Charles Shumate, assistant chief engineer … at a public meeting convened … to give the highway department an idea of where the people of Aspen wanted the new bridge. Three alternative locations were listed … 1, along the right of way of the old Midland Railroad about two blocks south of Main Street; 2, At the west end of Main Street; and 3, On the present location at the west end of Hallam Street. [A vote of the 35 people in attendance] showed … 29 for retaining the existing [alignment].
Area voters rejected a proposal by the Aspen Valley Hospital District to raise taxes to cover deficits in the hospital’s operating budget.
The narrow defeat Tuesday of a proposed property tax increase to help cover the cost of operating [the facility] probably will mean an increase in rates next year, according to hospital administrator Glenn Scott. The tax measure, which was defeated by a nine vote margin [195 to 186], came as a surprise to hospital district officials, who sensed little opposition to the tax prior to the election.
Pitkin County residents prepared for what today might seem an old-fashioned kind of entertainment ” the ninth annual Pitkin County Fair at fairgrounds in Snowmass Village.
There are events for everyone … a Lamb Catch-It Contest, a Cow Pie Punching Contest, a Diaper Derby, a Horse Show, a Dog Show, a Bake-Off Contest [and] the annual Livestock Judging and Sale [as well as] tents full of home made goodies and displays of flowers and garden crops … music by bluegrass bands … by old-time bands and now-time bands … for the first time, there will be an Oral History booth where old-timers can tell their stories … artists and craftsmen from all over the state will sell their wares.
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The city of Aspen is supposed to break ground on 300-plus housing units in 2024 but if Monday’s meeting with elected officials is any indication, the project could take years before coming online.