Willoughby: Hopkins, Hallam, Hyman — three street names, three pioneers | AspenTimes.com

Willoughby: Hopkins, Hallam, Hyman — three street names, three pioneers

Early Aspen pioneer Henry Gillespie, photographed in the 1880s.
Courtesy of Aspen Historical Society

In many cities streets are named in honor of individuals who made great contributions to their community. In some subdivisions, builders come up with street names that fit a theme, like names of trees. With three major Aspen streets all starting with a name that starts with the same letter, you might be thinking it was the latter, or you might be thinking those are familiar names so the streets were named after them for their contributions. The naming origin is more complicated.

David Hyman, an attorney from Cincinnati, was Aspen’s first mining investor. He was talked into putting up money to buy the most promising claims by B. Clark Wheeler, who evaluated the claims and talked their discovering prospectors into selling. The most important was the Smuggler Mine. Hyman was the longtime owner of the Smuggler and Durant mines.

Charles Hallam was part of that process. Hyman was not entirely confident about Wheeler’s purchasing plan because the amount Wheeler negotiated was far more than Hyman had, so Hyman knew he would have to convince others to invest. Hyman turned to Hallam, who he knew had been involved in other mining deals, to give him a second opinion. Hallam became the early superintendent for the Smuggler Mine and Hyman’s attorney in Aspen.

W.L. Hopkins was an early filer of Aspen mining claims. He had partnerships in many including the Pioneer Mine and the Ben Wood. He also picked up homestead land for a ranch. He was one of the first Pitkin County commissioners. He also gained local respect for surviving a fall down the Emma Shaft. He was heading home at 2 a.m. when, in the dark, he fell into the shaft. The shaft was not down far at the time and the bottom was filled with water. He yelled for help and a friend heard the call for help, went and found a rope and pulled him out.

The three of them were also partners in the Aspen Land and Town Co. B. Clark Wheeler, in addition to lining up claims for Hyman to buy, filed a townsite claim covering most of what is now Aspen. The site was surveyed and streets and building sites identified. There was an additional filing by others with boundaries overlapping and the ownership was not clear resulting in many early pioneers avoiding Aspen and settling in Ashcroft instead.

It is not clear who named the streets. It could have been Wheeler, it could have been all the partners. Wheeler is the only partner who did not have a street named after him. Wheeler was good at raising money from others, so it is possible that he threw in a street naming for making an investment. That seems possible because there were other partners who also had streets named after them.

Isaac Cooper was an early mine investor. He is more identified with Glenwood Springs because in 1883 he acquired the hot springs there and built the first hotel.

Henry Gillespie also bought into the partnership. He and his wife were some of the first to settle in Aspen. He owned several early producing mines in Spar Gulch creating the Spar Consolidated Co. He also was a major owner in the Mollie Gibson, one of Aspen’s most famous mines. With those profits he invested in other mines, bought a ranch in Emma, and built a large building known as Gillespie’s Brick Block on Mill Street between Hopkins and Main.

Gillespie split his time between Aspen, Denver and Emma. Locals wanted him to run for governor in 1886, but instead he vied for lieutenant governor and lost. He made many friends when he donated the bell for the fire station and one for a church.

It could be said that while the streets were maybe named by them rather than for them, those Aspen pioneers all became important contributors to the community.

Tim Willoughby’s family story parallels Aspen’s. He began sharing folklore while teaching at Aspen Country Day School and Colorado Mountain College. Now a tourist in his native town, he views it with historical perspective. Reach him at redmtn2@comcast.net.


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