100 Years Ago Today: Iconic Golden Armory Hosts Military Ball

Colorado Transcript, March 27, 1919
Colorado National Guard Armory in Golden, c.1920
Denver Public Library, Western History Department

The Armory in Golden, Colorado was built for the Colorado National Guard in 1913 for Company A of Engineers. It was constructed with 6,600 tons of cobblestones harvested from nearby Clear Creek. This much rock required the service of 3,300 wagon loads that were hauled to the building site on the corner of 13th and Arapahoe.

Fun fact: Clear Creek was once known as Cannonball Creek because of the abundance of cannonball-sized stones. Perhaps the old nickname was the inspiration for construction material. The building was originally supposed to be built out of brick, which the Golden area was known for producing, but brick was too expensive, so they went with a cheaper locally-sourced material.

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The Armory today

The most iconic feature of the Armory is its turret top, which is 65 feet high and makes the building look like a castle. The turret was used as an observation center in order to make maps of the area. Other interesting characteristics of the building, as laid out by the excellent website, The Masonry of Denver, include larger cobblestones and thicker walls at the base of the building compared to the top, large cut stones above the windows, and a cast stone keystone above the archways.

The Armory originally held barracks, a mess hall, a drill hall, and an auditorium where the Military Ball from today’s article was held. The Colorado National Guard stored their weapons here as well, hence the name Armory. During the influenza epidemic in 1918, the Red Cross took over the drill hall, using it as a makeshift hospital. The first Post Office in Golden was housed on the first floor, where Cafe 13 is today.

The Armory building was restored in 1974, and it was added to National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It is known today as the “largest cobblestone building in the United States” according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Armory cornerstone

The following is a guide to the abbreviations in the Armory cornerstone, pictured above. The M.W. before Grand Lodge stands for Most Worshipful, with the term worshipful meaning “worthy of respect.” A.F. & A.M. stands for Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. A.D. stands for Anno Domini and A.L. stands for Anno Lucis aka “in the Year of Light.”

Anno Lucis is a Masonic dating system, which is equivalent to the Gregorian year plus 4000. This is similar to the Anno Mundi dating system in the Hebrew calendar, but Anno Lucis rounds out the creation date to essentially 4000 B.C.

So if this particular cornerstone had more real estate it would read:

LAID BY THE MOST WORSHIPFUL GRAND LODGE

ANCIENT FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS OF COLORADO

SATURDAY, JUNE 14, ANNO DOMINI 1913 ANNO LUCIS 5913

The Armory once housed a tax services storefront

100 Years Ago Today: Art-O-Graph Film Company Makes Movies in Colorado

Steamboat Pilot, March 26, 1919

The Art-O-Graf film company, a Denver-based movie studio, was owned by filmmaker/producer/actor Otis B. Thayer (1863–1935), with offices in downtown Denver and studios in Englewood, CO.

From 1919 – 1924, Art-O-Graf was known for producing low-budget Westerns during the Silent Era of films. Art-O-Graf shot many of their mountainous exterior scenes in Steamboat Springs, including the film in today’s article, Wolves of the Street, which was filmed in 1919 and released in 1920.

Promo poster for Wolves of the Street
Art-O-Graf, Denver City Directory Listing, 1920

Art-O-Graf wasn’t Otis Thayer’s first attempt at running a film-making company. Previous enterprises include the Cheyenne Motion Picture Company, Columbine Film Company, and the Colorado Motion Picture Company, among others. Nor was Wolves of the Street his directorial debut. Far from it, in fact, as Thayer has 81 film directing credits to his name.

Art-O-Graf promotional tent for their film, Miss Arizona

Thayer loved Steamboat Springs as a backdrop for his Westerns. He once said, “God made the vicinity around Steamboat Springs especially for the taking of moving pictures.”

True to his word, the mining scenes in Wolves of the Street were filmed at the rugged and picturesque Fish Creek Falls, just outside of Steamboat. Also, at least one of the street scenes was filmed at the corner of 9th and Lincoln Ave, near where the iconic F. M. Light & Sons store is located today. Thayer even had plans to build a second studio in Steamboat, but there’s no indication that happened.

On the set of Wolves of the Street in Steamboat Springs, 1919
Denver Public Library, Western History Department

Thayer’s love for shooting film on location in Colorado almost killed him in 1920. According to The Motion Picture World periodical, Thayer nearly drowned while wading into the Gunnison River looking for the perfect set location. The river was higher than he thought, and while trying to extract himself he got stuck in quicksand. Luckily, his crew was able to rescue him.

Otis Thayer
Otis B. Thayer, Director/Producer/President of Art-O-Graf

1920 was a particularly busy year for Thayer, aside from almost dying, for he also directed and released the film, The Desert Scorpion, which like today’s film, starred Ed Cobb and Vida Johnson. He paid the actors by the week, so he might as well get his money’s worth out of them.

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Ed Cobb (left) from Wolves of the Street, 1919

Edmund Fessenden Cobb (1892–1974) had 665 acting credits between his roles in shorts and feature length films. Most of his roles were in Westerns. Typically he played a grumpy fellow, as indicated in the set of his mouth in the picture above. In 1934, he starred in the first horror-western called The Rawhide Terror, which devolved from a 12 part serial into a disastrous, unwatchable B-movie. After this release, Cobb was relegated to bit parts.

Ed Cobb in profile
fromA Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses by Katchmer, 2002

100 Years Ago Today: Famous Goat, Long Dead, Butts In Again

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Colorado Transcript, March 20, 1919
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White Angora Goat, like the one in the article

Today’s article is so weird and chock full of its own history that I’m just going to transcribe it below since the newsprint, found here, is kind of hard to read. It’s a story about a college rivalry, a dead goat, and the riots that broke out because of it.

From the Colorado Transcript on March 20, 1919:

“The University of Colorado has been in furor since last Saturday night, when the famous Mines-Boulder goat disappeared from the Mackey auditorium, and no little stir has been caused in Golden among Mines students because the Boulder bunch accuses the Miners of having stolen the famous angora.

The goat was spirited away sometime during the Mines-Boulder basketball game, and for that reason the Boulderites claim that the Miners were the purloiners. The Miners, in turn, swear that they know nothing about the goat.

The war over this goat became so hot that two years ago it was voted that the winner of the annual football game between the two schools should keep it, and that it should go to the winner each year. The U. of C. boys claim that if the Miners swiped the goat last Friday night they violated that agreement. The Miners deny taking the trophy, but on the other hand they allege that if a Miner did get away with it, they did not violate any agreement, as Boulder refused to play the strong Miners football team last fall, thus cheating the Miners out of a chance to get the goat back on the field of battle.

This famous animal was captured by the Miners at the football game in Boulder in 1913. It has been dressed up in Mines colors by university men, and paraded up and down the field. The Miners made way with him, brought him to Golden, and later had him killed and taxidermized. Then he was given a place of honor in the trophy room.

Later, in the same year, six University of Colorado upperclassmen undertook to kidnap the goat, but instead of accomplishing the feat were caught by the Miners, their hair was shaved from their heads and the words “Mines” written with red paint across their foreheads. In 1914 unsuccessful attempts were made to get the goat. In November, 1916, six university students invaded the Mines’ goattery while the shepherds slept and carried the famed animal to Boulder.

Soon afterwards a party of Mines students went to Boulder, broke into the Harbeck residence on Euclid avenue where Clark Pyle, a university student, was in charge, treated Pyle roughly, and went home without the goat. A night or two later a crowd of university students went to Golden and spread red paint generously on the Minos campus walks and buildings. Such signs as “To Hell With the Miners!” and “Who Has the Miners Goat?” appeared in
abundance.

Feeling between students of the two schools became so hostile that it was thought for a while that the Mines-Colorado 1916 football game would have to be called off. The Miners threatened to reach Boulder in a special train to “clean up” university students. Mass meetings were held at both schools in which Webster’s dictionary was exhausted of its supply of virulent adjectives. Faculties of both schools stepped into the breach. Ed McBride, then president of the Associated Students of the University of Colorado, came to Golden with several fellow students and in a peaceful, ladylike manner removed the paint that bore the Boulder label. Matters then quieted down. The whereabouts of the goat became a deep secret. The war kept it from notoriety in 1917 and 1918.”

**End of article**

A few other bits to the story:

  • Despite claims that the goat had been located, it was never found, but theories abound including that it was burned at the stake to quell the student unrest.
  • According to a 1916 issue of the School of Mines Magazine, the goat was first paraded around by CU in 1912 as a taunt to Mines with the slogan, “The Engineers have got your goat, Mines.”
  • CU Dean, F. B. R. Hellems, once said that this goat was the most “diabolically intelligent animal he had ever heard of because of its ability to disappear at such opportune times.”

100 Years Ago Today: Buy More Liberty Loans

Aspen Democrat-Times, March 19, 1919

To read the propaganda promoting Liberty Loans between 1917 – 1919, you would think that if you didn’t buy one of these loans — also known as bonds and as securities — you were not only un-American, you were actively aiding the Central Powers in killing our soldiers and welcoming Huns into the United States.

Lend As They Fight
1917 Liberty Bond propaganda poster
Hun Or Home?
Propaganda poster showing a monstrous German looming

Even today’s brief article, announcing that Governor Shoup wants Coloradoans to buy Liberty Loans, mentions the word obligation in reference to people’s responsibility to buy these bonds.

So what were these Liberty Loans? Why was this one called the Victory Loan? And why was the government pushing so hard for people to buy these Loans?

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Liberty Loan propaganda

The first of five WWI-era Liberty Loans was issued on April 24, 1917, under the Emergency Loan Act. This was immediately after the U.S. joined WWI, and the Loan was intended to fund the country’s initial war efforts. U.S. citizens were told to buy the bond, hold onto it for a set minimum number of years, and then be paid back plus a fixed interest rate by the government.

Charlie Chaplin sees his liberty bond money handed to an industry man to make guns for soldiers

Each of these five Loan periods was given a target dollar amount, an end date in the event the target was not reached, an interest rate at which the loan would be paid back, and an early cash out date and late cash out date. For example, the fifth Liberty Loan, known as the Victory Liberty Loan because the war was over, had a $4.5 billion target. Prospective buyers had from Apr 21, 1919 until May 10, 1919 to buy bonds, in $50 increments, at a 4.75% interest rate, and they could cash out after 3 years, but the interest would stop accruing after 4 years.

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Victory Liberty Loan notes from 1919
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Propaganda poster for the Fifth and Final Liberty Loan

Backing up a bit to the question of why the government was pushing so hard for these bonds, the first two Liberty Loans were not selling as well as hoped. Rumors were swirling that notes were being sold under their value just to make more sales. Treasury Secretary, William McAdoo, created a propaganda machine under the Committee on Public Information in order to push people to buy more bonds.

This committee helped make and distribute thousands of persuasive posters, enlisted celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks to make speeches promoting sales, urged communities to meet bond-buying quotas, promised prizes to volunteer promoters like custom buttons and German helmets, and spread rhetoric built upon the idea that buying these bonds was American, and anyone who didn’t buy them was un-American.

Steel prize tokens for volunteer promoters who sold the most Liberty Loans in their communities. These were made from melted down German cannons.

By the end of 1919, the U.S. had accrued debt in the ballpark of $25 billion as a result of Liberty Bond and other securities sales.

Timeline for Liberty Loans: The second Liberty Loan was issued on Oct 1, 1917, the third Liberty Loan was issued on Apr 5, 1918, the fourth on Sep 28, 1918, and the fifth and last called the Victory Loan was issued on Apr 21, 1919.

Depiction of the battle at Chateau-Thierry where the German cannon was captured and later melted down into Victory Loan prize buttons

100 Years Ago Today: Gen. Wood Makes Bid For President

Herald Democrat, March 14, 1919

Major General Leonard Wood was one of the most decorated Army veterans in U. S. History. And he was damned close to becoming President of the United States as well, if only he were in that smoke-filled “room where it happens” (shout out to my Hamilton heads) during the Republican National Convention of 1920.

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Gen. Leonard Wood

However, the name Leonard Wood is not well known today. I’d certainly never heard it before I came across today’s article. So let’s take a brief tour through the life of this very model of a modern major general (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Wood was born in New Hampshire in 1860 and studied medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he became a surgeon in 1884. He officially joined the Army in 1886 as an assistant-surgeon serving under Captain Lawton in the Indian Wars, notably during the chase and eventual capture of the Apache chief, Geronimo. Wood was awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for his service during this time, and he documented the Geronimo pursuit in his journal, published as Chasing Geronimo.

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Leonard Wood’s Certificate of Medal of Honor

When the Spanish-American war broke out in 1898, Wood and his friend, Theodore Roosevelt, left their positions (as physician to the President and assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy, respectively) to recruit the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders. Col. Wood was the commanding officer and Lt. Col. Roosevelt was his second in command during their famous victories at Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill in Cuba. Wood was promoted to Brigadier General for his service, and he stayed on the island from 1899-1902 as the Military Governor of Cuba, working with Walter Reed to establish infrastructure there in the areas of education, police, sanitation, and justice.

Col. Wood and Lt. Col Roosevelt

Continuing his meteoric rise, Wood was made Major General in 1903 when he was transferred to the Philippines to serve as Governor of the Moro Province until 1906. He then commanded the Department of the East until his appointment as Army Chief of Staff under President William Howard Taft from 1910-1914, the only physician to ever hold that position.

Politically, Maj. Gen. Wood was a Republican most closely aligned with Theodore Roosevelt’s brand of imperialism and progressive-ism. He was a proponent of the Preparedness Movement, which aimed to establish military training centers in in places like Plattsburg, NY for training officers and infantry in anticipation of World War I. His political positions set him in opposition to President Woodrow Wilson, who passed him over for Commander of the AEF when the U. S. joined the Great War.

Color poster with text "Are you trained to defend your country? Plattsburg." Uniformed soldier with gun and camp tents.
Preparedness Movement Propaganda

Early in 1919, Leonard Wood’s name was bandied about the Republican party as a candidate for the 1920 presidential election. Supporting groups like the Wood Republican Club in Colorado from today’s article saw him as the political heir to the recently deceased Theodore Roosevelt, who actually thought about running in 1920 before his untimely demise.

Indeed, Wood was considered the front runner for the Republican ticket all the way up to the Republican National Convention in 1920. He won the New Hampshire primary in his home state, as well as seven other state primaries.

During the Republican National Convention, Wood was leading every ballot over Frank Lowden, Hiram Johnson, and Warren G. Garding, but he didn’t have quite enough delegates to be declared the victor. Wood was thought by some in the party to have spent too much money on his Presidential campaign (ha! think about that for a second). Finally, on the 10th ballot, after Republican bosses had met in so-called “smoke filled rooms,” Harding, an Ohio Senator and newspaper man, was chosen as a compromise candidate. He would go on to win the Presidential election with his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, over Democratic nominee, James M. Cox.

In Wood’s final years, he commanded the Central Division and then served in the Philippines for one last mission, retiring from active service in 1921. He was not quite done yet, however. He became the governor general of the Philippines from 1921-1927. Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood died during surgery for a recurring brain tumor on August 7, 1927 in Boston, Massachusetts. Fort Leonard Wood, an Army combat engineer school, is named after him.

from The Military Obligation of Citizenship by Leonard Wood, 1919

100 Years Ago Today: Murderer Ends His Life in Prison

Moffat County Courier, March 13, 1919

The tragedy of Celina Haberl reached its conclusion when her murderer, Richard H. Baugh, ended his own life by hanging himself in his jail cell in the Canon City State Penitentiary.

Miss Haberl was just 21-years-old when Baugh shot her to death on June 7, 1918. She and her sister had been visiting their grandmother when they got off their streetcar and Baugh snuck up on them from an alley, saying to Celina Haberl, “you don’t have to run, Ethel.” Police reports reveal that he’d been stalking the woman in the neighborhood the last two nights. Baugh killed Haberl with a gunshot to the head, and then Baugh attempted to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. He later recovered in the hospital.

Apparently, Richard Baugh mistook Celina Haberl for Ethel Lane, who he said wronged him, according to a conversation he had with Police Chief, Hamilton Armstrong, in the hospital. The Police Chief informed Baugh, “you got the wrong girl.” Side note: remember when a lunatic threatened to cut off Chief Armstrong’s head and send it to Governor Shoup?

One confusing complication to the story is that today’s article refers to Baugh as a “blind convict.” Does this explain why he mistook Celina Haberl for Ethel Lane? But how would he be able to identify her in the first place, let alone shoot her? Or, did the attempted suicide after her murder cause his blindness? Baugh’s blindness is not mentioned until reports of his trial, when he is referred to as “blinded in both eyes,” and his expression at his sentence is described as “immobile.”

In September of 1918, Baugh was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor. He took his own life on January 20th, 1919, although the story didn’t make it to the Moffat County Courier until March 13, 1919.

100 Years Ago Today: Airedales Are Kings Among Dogs

Herald Democrat, March 12, 1919

Today, dogs perform dozens of specialized services for people, such as the work of Autism Assistance Dogs, Veteran Service Dogs, Brace/Mobility Support Dogs, Avalanche Rescue Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dog, and many more. But back in 1919, the idea that dogs could be trained to perform such highly skillful tasks, beyond their known abilities as retrievers during a hunt, was relatively new.

The Airedale Terrier was one of the first breeds identified as capable of learning such tasks, and they proved themselves invaluable to the British as well as German Armed Forces in World War I, performing vital services like finding wounded soldiers, carrying messages across the front lines, and acting as guard dogs. Perhaps it was their reputation in this last skill that led the Holly Sugar Company to use Airedales as watch dogs for their sugar factory in Swink, Colorado in today’s article.

Swink Sugar Factory of the Holly Sugar Company
Courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Department

The Airedale has been used more especially for guarding purposes. The peculiarly faithful and sagacious nature of the breed, combined with its adaptability to every circumstance where it may be required, whether it be the farmer’s yard, the factory, or a lady’s drawing-room, makes it very useful indeed.

Edwin Hautenville Richardson, from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management

Airedales originated in the Aire Valley of northern England near the Scottish border during the mid-1800s. The Aire Valley was primarily a manufacturing town, and the mill and factory workers who lived there wanted to breed a tough, biddable dog to hunt rats that infested the area, as well as a dog that could retrieve ducks during a hunt. According to the AKC, the Airedale originated as a cross between several breeds, including the Otterhound for its sense of smell, the now-extinct Black and Tan Terriers for their desire to learn, and the Irish and Bedlington Terriers for their alertness.

 The Western Front's dogs of war revealed
Lt. Col. Richardson in the trenches with one of his dogs

During WWI, under the training guidance of British Lieutenant Colonel, Edwin Hautenville Richardson, the Airedale was introduced as one of the first War Dogs for the Allied side. Ironically, Richardson was made aware of the potential of war dogs by the Germans, who were training dogs to find wounded soldiers as early as 1914.

from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management
by Edwin Hautenville Richardson

Despite the British military’s reluctance to catch on to the value of war dogs, Lt. Col. Richardson and his wife, Blanche, set up the British War Dogs Training School at Shoeburyness, Essex, where they trained hundreds of dogs.

“[Airedales] are very determined. They’re very single-minded and there’s no stopping them.

Lt. Col. Edwin Hautenville Richardson
Dogs
Airedales in the Red Cross uniform and carrying a messenger bag

Thousands of Airedales, as well as other breeds, were trained as messengers, sentries, and guards for the British Armed Forces. Messages were put in tins around the necks of dogs and they were identified by a scarlet collar or tally. Wendy Turner, secretary of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland said, “Red Cross used them as first aid carriers, they had a little package on their neck with medication in it and everything, and they were used for going out and finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield.”

Airedales were even taught to wear gas masks so that they could serve in the trenches on the front lines.

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Airedales wearing gas masks in WWI training

Jack, an Airedale British War Dog, was one of the most heroic service dogs in WWI. In 1918, Jack’s battalion, an advanced unit of the Sherwood Foresters, was completely trapped by German forces who had blown huge mortar shell holes behind the Allies. In front of them was a line of impenetrable barbed wire.

The Foresters were doomed, and Jack was their only hope of summoning reinforcements. The Airedale was sent to the deliver a message past the Germans to the next Allied line behind them. Jack suffered grave wounds during his mission. His jaw was shattered by shrapnel and a shell ripped down his back, but he kept going for another mile and a half. He saved his battalion, but Jack died soon after delivering his message.

Historic film footage of war dogs in the trenches of WWI

Presidents who have owned Airedales include Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. Author John Steinbeck also had an Airedale. The 1919 Best in Show was won by an Airedale.