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Captain Shinn’s Privately Printed Adventures

165. SHINN, Jonathan. The Memoirs of Capt. Jonathan Shinn. Greeley, Colorado: Weld County Democrat, 1890. 88 pp. 12mo, original grey printed wrapper (original lower wrapper and spine wanting, but supplied in sympathetic facsimile).  Lightly worn and a few nicks to upper wrap, otherwise very good.  Privately printed and rare.

     First edition. Adams, Herd 2061. Flake 7692: “Includes his cordial relations with the Mormons in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, 1840s and 1850s.” Graff 3761: “Shinn fought in the Black Hawk War, drove a stage between Peoria and Galena and Peoria and Springfield during the 1830s, in 1850 operated a ferry across the Missouri River at Council Bluffs, and in 1861 went to Pike’s Peak.” Howes S417: “Pioneer experiences in the upper Mississippi country, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado.” Wynar 808.

     This is a pastiche of Shinn’s various experiences in his many roles in the Midwest and in a trip to Colorado.  In his employments he helped rid the areas of Native Americans, for whom he often expresses grudging respect, and assisted numerous emigrants on their way West.  His adventures running a river ferry crossing at Council Bluffs in 1850 are especially fascinating. Of the legislature meeting that was to decide the location of Nebraska’s capital, he states: “Every man that attended that legislature was armed and equipped with a pistol and a bowie knife, prepared for a battle...  And all that kept them from killing each other was that every man knew that the crowd was armed and prepared...  So no one dared to make a break” (p. 65). Shinn lived among the Mormons in Illinois “who were as good neighbors as I ever had.” He describes the Mormon exodus.  He states: “In ’62 I brought the first printing press to Central City.  It belonged to a man named Hampson of Pacific City” (p. 71) Shinn attempted to drive cattle to Denver but the cattle for the most part were scattered and he did not succeed in his mission. ($1,000-2,000)

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