Born in October of 1870, Colorado Deborah Condrell entered this life fighting for survival. According to family legend Colorado was born on the SS Colorado coming to America. Supposedly her mother, as one story goes was coming back from visiting her family in England. She went into labor out on the opens seas. Unfortunately her mother did not survive and the nameless infant was christened Colorado by the captain of the ship. Upon arriving in America she was met by her father, Peter Condrell who was stationed in the frontier forts out west. Peter took the infant child with him to live in the various Forts, including Ft. Laramie, Ft. D.A. Russell and Fort Feterman. I will write a separate blog on Peter as there is a bit of mystery there as well....but that is another story.
Colorado at the age of 10 found herself orphaned at Ft. D.A. Russell after the death of Peter in 1880. She was living for a time with the Schufeldt family, he was the camp physician, and she was listed as a nurse in the 1880 census, however she was probably a nurse maid to their young children. The Schufeldt were transferred to Washington DC, Colorado did not accompany them.
Now the mystery thickens.................
Through fate it so happened that a complete stranger had purchased the house Colorado lived in, in the 1980s, and keeping for over 20 years scraps of papers she had found stored away in the garage. We were introduced through a mutal friend and I was able to get some of those papers. Obsolutely amazing what one can find through scraps of paper.
By 1880 Colorado was living in Arapahoe County, Denver Colorado. This evidence was through guardianship receipts made out to Sarah Korengel. With this information I was able to go through the Colorado State Archives and find that this woman, who claimed to be her mother, was claiming Peter Condrell's pension for Colorado and her sister Minerva, which we did not know even existed.
We loose Minerva in Arapahoe County and then find Colorado in the silver camp of Leadville Colorado by 1885. She is listed living with Sarah Korengel and working at a laundress. Colorado would have been 15 at this time.
In 1885 Colorado is married to George Milsom of England. George was employed with the Matchless Mine. George was veteran of the Civil War and served from Illinois. He was 45 years old. Now one may wonder why a girl of 15 would be compelled to marry a man old enough to be her father, but one must remember first of all in that time for a woman of that age if she was not in school and needed to work to survive and in a woman starved mining camp the option of prositution may have been lerking in her future. The reason I think this is one in the files from the state archives, there is a letter from George Milsom writing in concern that the woman claiming to be Colorado's mother may ha and this woman was only using her to get a pention. In addition my grandmother had mentioned to a distant cousin that after Peter Condrell died, Colorado was taken in by a madam!