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Thread: Bransford Residence

  1. #1
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    Bransford Residence

    Doing research for a bio on William A. Bransford that hopefully will get published down the line in Wagon Tracks. From what I've read, his wife, Royal Red ran a boarding house on the site of the Columbian Hotel. Was this after Bransford passed away? Would love to know what years we are talking about as I attempt to pull together a timeline.
    Red's granddaughter, in an oral history about life with her states that while Bransford was still alive her grandparents lived outside of town on a ranch at the mouth of San Francisco Canyon. Jesus Barela, Casimiro's father had a ranch above them. Unfortunately, she gives no dates in the oral history...
    Last edited by Dodie; 02-27-2010 at 09:27 AM.

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    Type in Bransford in the search engine, there's a lot of info on Bransford.

    Also the parents of Casimiro Barela were Jose Maria Barela and Maria de Jesus Abeyta.

    ~Pat~

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    This message board has provided a lot of info - been searching it and others for a few weeks now. But I haven't seen anything that answers my question specific to their residence or that gives a time frame for when Red and Bransford arrived in Trinidad, when she ran the boarding house, etc.

    I'm awaiting arrival of Morris Taylor's book, Trinidad, Colorado Territory which hopefully will provide more info; and Amazon is searching for a copy of John Shiver's bio of the Bransford family.

    Thanks for responding and trying to help!

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    Trinidad, Colorado Territory by Morris F. Taylor:

    Page 93: On the site now occupied by the Columbian Hotel there stood in 1869 a house of indeterminate description owned by William Bransford and his wife Red, the sister of the Sioux Chief Red Cloud.
    While there the Bransford took roomers. The place was deeded to Jacob and Isabella Beard, who in turn conveyed it to Jabez M. Fisher, Jr. all in 1869. (Clipping from Trinidad Daily Advertiser, 4/13/1886 in Las Animas County: De Busk Memorial p. 48)
    (Las Animas County Deed record V-2 p. 59-62 and V-3 p. 410-411)

    A bit later Fisher put up a big adobe building to be called the Fisher Building.

    Page 132: Of interest to some men was the fact that Albus and Gerardi had moved their Amusement Saloon three doors west of their old stand on Main Street, and a few gentlemen boarders could be accomodated at her place on Commercial Street by Mrs M. Skelly. She was the daughter of Marcellin St. Vrain and Red, and the wife of Billy Bransford, San Francisco Creek rancher. (Sopris, Colorado Magazine XXII March 1945 p. 63-68)

    Hope this helps.

    ~Pat~

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    It does indeed! Will see if I can get a hold of the CO Magazine article mentioned in Taylor's book next time I'm at the CO Historical Society library, as well as the vertical file they have on Bransford. I'm hoping a copy of his obit and/or Red's obit will be in the file. And one of these days I'm actually going to STOP in Trinidad to do some research instead of breezing through on my way elsewhere. It turns out I'll be in Mora on Wednesday - maybe I can locate a historian who can point me in the right direction for info on 1846 - 1860. Thanks again for the info you've provided!

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    This is a copy of William Bransford's obituary. This was published on Saturday, June 19, 1937 in the Trinidad Chronicle's 60th Anniversary Edition. (William and Red were my great-great-grandparents; Alex Bransford was my great-grandfather; J. B. (Juan Bautista) Bransford was my grandfather.)

    UNCLE “BILLY” BRANSFORD WAS COLORFUL PIONEER
    OF TRINIDAD SIXTY YEARS AGO

    COMPANION OF BENTS AND KIT CARSON, PARTNER OF CERAN ST. VRAIN WAS PROMINENT IN EARLY DAYS OF COMMUNITY.

    Sixty years ago one of the best known and most colorful citizens of Trinidad was William A. Bransford. He, who was addressed always as “Uncle Billy, Indian trader, friend of Kit Carson, the Bents and other of the distinguished pioneers of this region, long time partner of Ceran St. Vrain, Uncle “Billy” Bransford was a noted personality of the early life of this community. He had been Justice of the Peace and police judge prior to his death in 1885.
    He died the day after Christmas that year and his passing was inspiration for no little notice in the Trinidad News. Among the historical matter preserved by the Chronicle News for this anniversary edition is the full account of the death of Uncle “Billy” Bransford as it appeared in the News on the day of his death.
    It follows:
    It is the painful duty of the News to announce this morning the death of William A. Bransford, which occurred yesterday about six o’clock in this city.
    “Uncle Billy,” as he was familiarly called was widely known to all old-timers of Colorado and New Mexico, and no man ever lived, who, to a greater extent possessed the confidence and esteem of his fellowmen.
    He came to the Rocky Mountains about 50 years ago, where he resided until, his death. He was born near Lynchburg, VA, and never visited the scenes of his youth after coming to the mountains, until about a year ago, when he went to Virginia and returned through the state of Kentucky to visit his brothers and sisters who still survive him.
    In the death of William A. Bransford, much that would be of thrilling interest in the history of the first coming of the white man to the mountains is forever lost, he being among the first to venture to the then unexplored country. He was a part of all that is tragic, wonderful and great, connected with events of the last fifty years.
    He was one of the first Indian traders and lived among and was known to all the tribes, as well as the men who came with him to build an empire. He was the trusted friend of the Bents, Kit Carson and other illustrious pioneers. He was for a long time partner in business with Col. Ceran St. Vrain and amassed a fortune estimated at $100,000, yet left but little of this world’s goods as a monument to the work of his life. His fortune was absolutely given away for there was that to William Bransford’s heart that would not allow him to say “no” to any human being who asked him for aid. He placed no value on money save as a means to accomplish whatever was dictated by his heart.
    Illustrating this trait of his character may be cited an instance: He was at one time sheriff of Mora County, New Mexico, and by virtue of his office was collector of revenues. This duty he performed in person by riding over the county collecting taxes, and when he found a man unable to pay, he wrote out and delivered to him his receipt in full, and when making his settlement he found that he was several thousand dollars short and drew his own check for the amount. As sheriff he was expected to keep the prisoners arrested for violation of the laws, the county had neither courthouse nor jail. He erected both himself at his own expense. They cost him several thousand dollars and he never asked or received a cent in return for his voluntary outlay.
    A fortune even as large as his could not always sustain such generosity, and yet he kept right on until it was all gone. The opportunities for accumulating money attracted men of different natures who took his place in money getting, and they grew rich, while he gave away the fortune that was his. While his money lasted he was the unfailing refuge of all who were in need and his roof was a shelter to all who were homeless. Our present county clerk, Jesus M. Garcia, as a boy, found a home with Judge Bransford, and received his education at his hands.
    Blunt honesty was the crowning virtue of William A. Bransford’s life. There was not a spark of hypocrisy or “can’t” in his nature. He never in his life wronged a human being or touched a dollar that was not honestly his. His heart was as tender as a girl’s, and kindness and sympathy were written on his face. No man that lives the life that Judge Bransford lived must fear to die. He did not reach a high place in the country’s history, but he played a nobler part. He was faithful to every duty and obedient to the dictates of an upright conscience, and had he been conscious when the arrows of death pierced him, he would have yielded up his life with the same courage that characterized his acts as a man.
    At the time of his death he was justice of peace and police judge of the city. On Christmas he was among his friends in his usual good health and spirits. He partook of a hearty dinner and gave no evidence of the end that was so near. Yesterday morning he arose as usual, and while dressing was heard to utter a cry. The family hurried to his assistance in time to prevent his falling but the stroke had come. He was unconscious and never spoke again.
    He was assisted to his bed where he remained until death came to his relief. He leaves a wife and seven children; three daughters and four sons, and his step-daughter, Mary Skelly, to whom he was all that a father could be. He who writes the epitaph of William A. Bransford may in truth write: “Here lies the noblest work of God – an honest man.”

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    Thank you for sharing William Bransford's obituary which was so well written. What an honor it must be to be related to such a selfless gentleman that he was towards his community and countrymen.

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    Many thanks for the obituary. Jeff Bransford and Christine St. Vrain were also able to provide me a copy as well as a wealth of info on William and his wife, Red. Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the site of old Fort St. Vrain near Platteville. This is likely where William met Red while employed with Bent & Co. and while she was still married to Marcellin St. Vrain. Sadly, none of the fort remains. Diane Brockmarkle's book on the fort includes a picture that Cragin took in 1903 that shows most of the adobe had already melted into the ground. Although there are still traces of the old Trappers' Trail near the river that aren't too hard to find if you know what you are looking for...

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