Sometime before the mail fraud incident, the Beerys went back to Missouri for a short time, and their first child, James C,. was born April 4, 1870, in Missouri. Both Beery and his wife Mary Castello were from Missouri and most likely had relatives still there.
By June 1, though, Beery and his family were back in Fairplay where Beery was a census enumerator in Park, Summit and Lake counties. His signature and date are on the forms. With his son born in April, the Beerys had to travel with a baby.
For speed and ease, perhaps they traveled on the new Kansas Pacific Railway, which helped open settlement of the prairies. The St. Louis to Kansas City section was completed in 1869, and by March 1870, the railway was completed to Kit Carson, Colo., on the eastern plains. By August the route was finished to Denver. This was the last link in the coast-to-coast railway network.
The Pacific Railway Act was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on July 1, 1862. Shortly after, he signed the May 20, 1862 Homestead Act, which granted large land grants to the railway along its main line. So not only was the railway able to offer transportation to the West, they were also able to offer land to homesteaders.
Encouraged by the government, these homesteaders would populate the land near the railways, starting towns, supply centers and providing activity to support the railway. It made the railways very wealthy.
Whether because of the mail fraud, the Front Street fire in Fairplay, or something else, Beery and his family moved to the head of Currant Creek shortly thereafter, starting a whole new phase of his life, as an Indian agent and rancher. Beery’s younger brother John T. and his wife Nettie moved back to Missouri.
On the General Land Office survey map, surveyed in 1873 – 1874, W. H. Beery’s house is marked at the head of Currant Creek where his homestead property was located. The GLO map spells it the “39-Mile Ranch.” Beery’s second son, Leslie Lovejoy, was born in Kester, 1873. Beery’s first daughter, Julia A., was born in Kester in 1875, and his fourth child, Frank Ferdinand is born in Alma, 1878.
The 1880 census shows Beery in South Park on Currant Creek with Mary and four children, ages 10, 7, 5 and 2, as well as a 30-year-old hired hand named George King. Beery’s occupation was a stock raiser.
From 1880 – 1881, Beery was a United States Indian Agent at the Los Pinos agency in the Uncompahgre Valley in western Colorado and met the last great Ute Indian Chief Ouray (Arrow) and his wife Chipeta. Early in 1880, Ouray, Chipeta, and sup-chiefs from all the different Ute tribes, The Council of Ouray, went to Washington, D.C. to talk treaties. Beery, as Indian agent, went as well.
An 1880 picture taken in Washington, D.C. includes Ouray, Chipeta, six Ute sub-chiefs, the Honorable C. Schurz, Secretary of the Interior, General Charles Adams and Wm. H. Berry (Beery is often misspelled Berry). Shortly after returning to Colorado from Washington, Ouray died on August 24, 1880, of Bright’s disease, leaving the Utes without a chief while facing war with the whites.
Bright’s disease is a kidney disease characterized by the presence of albumin in the urine and high blood pressure. We would call it nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, today, Wikipedia.
In 1881, tragedy struck the family. The year started out on a good note, with the birth of their fifth child, Katherine “Katie,” in March 1881, on the Currant Creek ranch.
In September, though, Beery’s oldest child, James, only eleven years old, died of diphtheria. Two other children had serious illnesses and the youngest, Katie, was sick, as reported in The Flume. Doctor Harris went down to the ranch to take care of the invalids.
To no avail, as Julia, six years-old died a week later, on the sixth, of cerebrospinal meningitis, said the Flume. The middle child, Leslie, eight years old was left afflicted with a nervous disability, presumably from the meningitis. He died in Cripple Creek in 1939 of a nervous disorder.
The youngest, six-month-old Katie, was reported as improving. There was no mention of Frank, but he did survive. “Such a series of afflictions as have befallen this family are seldom recorded,” stated The Flume. Young James and Julia are buried in the Currant Creek Pioneer Cemetery.
Diphtheria is a childhood bacterial disease that causes a false membrane to form in the throat and air passages, making breathing difficult. Cerebrospinal meningitis, or brain fever, is an acute inflammation of the meninges of the brain and spinal cord, with fever and occasional red spots on the skin. Meninges are the three coverings of the brain and spinal cord.
Despite the family tragedies, Beery continued on at the JI Ranch. An April 1882 Flume article, written by an enterprising correspondent who traveled around parts of Park County, mentions Beery in his article.
The unnamed correspondent visited prosperous ranchmen in the area who were “Laying up for themselves treasures upon earth,” and the article was entitled “Points from Different Parts of the Park.”
The correspondent reached Beery’s ranch at the head of Currant Creek and noted that Beery was “modest in his desires and only occupies about 10,000 acres of the public domain.” Beery had the entire northwestern slope of Thirtynine Mile Mountain fenced, providing excellent free range for his increasing herd of cattle.
Beery became very active in the South Park Cattle Growers Association, which formed in the late 1870s, early 1880s. The meetings were mostly held in Kester, a Post Office/stage and freight stop/small store, located on Currant Creek near the pass. (See Flume article on the Currant Creek Wagon Road – 2018)
At an 1883 stock raisers meeting, Beery and John Reeves Witcher, a prominent West Fourmile rancher, were on a committee to collect an additional $500 for the reward on Frank Reed’s head, from the members. Reed was a cattle thief and had killed Salida City Marshall Baxter Stringley.
In 1884 and 1885, Beery was the Cattle Grower’s Association’s secretary. Membership fees in the association then were $1.00, and yearly dues were $1.00 - $2.00. Beery was also a registrar of elections at the Kester Post Office in 1885.
In the 1885 Colorado Census, Beery is a stock raiser, living in South Park, Park County, and Currant Creek, on the JI Ranch.with Mary, Leslie, Frank, Katie and five-month-old Birdie A., born on Currant Creek. The Beerys also had a servant, 25-year-old Michl Spelman listed in their household.
Beery had a mining interest as well. An 1885 Flume article states that Beery visited St. Elmo to look after his mining interest and took a contract for 70 feet of the Golden Chief mine in the Alpine Pass District.
In an 1888 “found” ad that Beery took out in The Flume, he listed his post office as Howbert and his address as Kester.
Since most of the 1890 census records burned, there is no record of Beery at that time. We know he proved up his homestead in 1890 and he was most likely still living on Currant Creek. Beery’s last child, Charles, was born in 1890. Sadly, Charles died in 1896.
There is mention in a Flume article of Beery calling for an SPCGA meeting in May 1892. Also Beery was a delegate from Kester and Lake George at the Republican convention in 1893.
The 1900 census information is a little odd. It shows Mary Castello Beery living in Freshwater, Park County, and that she is widowed. Mary is living with three of her children, Frank, Katie and Birdie.
The 1900 census also shows William H. Beery, but living alone in Cripple Creek on Gillette Avenue. He is a dairyman and has been married 33 years.
In 1909, in Cripple Creek, Beery wrote about all the things he did in his life, ending by saying, “I am blinded by a cataract which I hope to have removed.”
Mary died Feb. 12, 1909, in Colorado City and is buried in Colorado Springs.
In 1910 Beery waas 72 years old, although the census information says 68 years old, widowed and living in Cripple Creek. His household members were his son Frank, a gold miner, and his daughter-in-law Myrtle.
Beery died June 28, 1911 and was buried in the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in Cripple Creek. His son Frank died in 1935 in Victor, and Leslie died in 1939 in Cripple Creek. Beery’s daughter Katie died in 1961 in Wyoming, and Birdie died in 1977, also in Wyoming.
Under the Angel of Shavano, George G. Everett and Dr. Wendell F. Hutchinson, 1963.
History of Descendants of Nicholas Beery, Joseph G. Wenger, 1911.
Bayou Salado: The Story of South Park, Virginia McConnell Simmons, 1992.