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Publisher’s Copy of “The First History of Denver and One of the Rarest Colorado Local Histories” (Streeter)

30. [DIRECTORY: COLORADO: DENVER].  WHARTON, J[unius] E. & D. O. Wilhelm.   History of the City of Denver from its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, by J. E. Wharton; To Which is Added a Full and Complete Business Directory, of the City, by D. O. Wilhelm.  Denver: Byers & Dailey, Printers, News Office, 1866. [2 ad], 184 pp., numerous ads throughout (a few illustrated), plus original wrappers printed on pink paper, bound in, the lower one as the front pastedown and the upper one as a front free endpaper.   8vo, contemporary full sheep, black gilt-lettered spine label, edges sprinkled (plain endpapers at rear).  Binding lightly rubbed especially along spine, front hinge cracked (but holding strong), otherwise very good. Association copy, with contemporary ink ownership of printer “Wm. N. Byers, Denver, Col.” on front flyleaf, with the ad for his printing and bookbinding firm bound in immediately preceding the title page.  A few contemporary pencil marks, notes, and corrections in text.

     First edition of an early and significant Colorado publication. Anderson Sale 1686 (fetched $290 in 1922): “Original edition of the pioneer history of Denver and one of the veritable nuggets of early Coloradiana. Historically the work is of the highest importance as affording a practically contemporary record of the early emigrations and gold ‘strikes’; the beginnings of the town with personal reminiscences of its first settlers; of the Desperadoes and Adventurers, their duels, murders and executions; the Indian Outrages, raids and Wars; disasters by fire and flood, etc. Among connoisseurs of Rocky Mountain lore, this little volume has long been esteemed as one of the rarest and most to be desired of books printed in the Territory.”

     Bradford 5765. Eberstadt 135:267. Graff 4617. Howes W303: “Rarest of Colorado local histories; first of this city.” Jones 295: “Excessively rare.” LC, Colorado 131: “This pioneer history of the ‘Queen City of the Plains’ was printed by Byers & Dailey, proprietors of the city’s pioneer newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News.” McMurtrie & Allen, Early Printing in Colorado 73. Rosenbach 16:233.  Streeter Sale 2172: “The first history of Denver and one of the rarest Colorado local histories.” Wilcox, p. 122. Wynar 884.

     Publishers Byers & Dailey were among the early arrivals in Denver and were the founders of The Rocky Mountain News.  William Newton Byers (1831-1903) was the foremost proponent of Denver during its early years and published its first newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, on April 23, 1859.  On pp. 125-127 is described how the newspaper building was destroyed in the flood in May of 1864, and their establishment is described as “that pioneer of hardship and of honor.”  McMurtrie & Allen (p. 21)  state that Byers “really laid the foundations of Colorado journalism and established the printing craft there” (p. 21).  At age twenty-one while working as a U.S. surveyor Byers crossed the Plains and became familiar with the Plains and Rockies .  He joined the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in 1858, conceived the idea of reporting first-hand information from the mines, and published a newspaper in the Gold Region. He plunged into public affairs from the moment of his arrival in Denver in 1859, staunchly advocating statehood for what is now Colorado.  He was chosen temporary president of the June 1859 convention to draft a constitution for a proposed state, and with his partner served as public printer to the constitutional convention for Jefferson Territory.  Due to his determined opposition to the lawless elements of the new community, he endured attacks by gangs.

     Contributor Junius E. Wharton, was also involved fairly deeply in early Denver printing, serving as editor or contributor to several newspapers.  Wharton, however, had a checkered career, apparently constantly running afoul of people because of his sour, turbulent disposition.

     At p. 175 is a brief but glowing appraisal of the Denver areas for stockraising commencing: “The natural advantages of Colorado as a stock country are without a parallel” and concluding:  “The grass-fed beef and mutton of the Territory may safely challenge the markets of the world.”  The addenda at end (pp. 177-184) concerns several instances of violence, “bloody outrages,” and horse thievery that occurred in Denver and reports other local news such as the arrival of a theatre troupe. One relatively long section concerns the murder of one Stark described as a “Mexican negro” and several individuals who set about shooting people.  The Rocky Mountain News, after denouncing these acts, was then subjected to attack by the perpetrators.  ($2,000-4,000)

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