The City Hall War, Bull Hill, and General Tarsney In 1892, Sam and Lou filed a claim on the Forest Queen Mine, near Cripple Creek. The mine would make them rich men for many years to come.
In March of 1894, Colorado Governor Davis H. Waite brought the state militia to downtown Denver, with their gatling guns, field artillery and mounted troops, to evict certain board members from City Hall.
A standoff ensued between the militia and the Denver municipal machine policemen, firemen and politicos resisting the idea that the governor could control city politics. The confrontation was eagerly observed by thousands of spectators, seemingly oblivious to the explosive nature of the situation.
The state supreme court ended the conflict a few days later without bloodshed, ruling that the governor did have the right to replace commissioners at City Hall, but lacked the authority to have General Thomas Tarsney and the Colorado infantry do it for him.
Soapy Smith is said by some accounts to have played a highly visible role in the resistance at City Hall, but we don't know what Lou and Sam were doing. The good old boys of the Denver machine, however, were the same old friends Lou and Sam relied upon as they consolidated their power.
A few months after the confrontation at City Hall, workers at many Cripple Creek mines went on strike, demanding an eight-hour day. Waite again called up Tarsney and his infantry, this time to try keeping peace between the miners, barricaded atop Bull Hill (visible just below the Forest Queen on the map above), and the county sheriff, his men, and a raft of strike breakers from Denver. Many of these were former cops and firemen, unhappy with the governor for his actions in Denver.
There was some violence, and Tarsney's handling of the affair was been characterized as inept. Many of the strikers ended up as irate with the general as the hired thugs from Denver. A few weeks after the standoff at Bull Hill, Tarsney was tarred and feathered outside Colorado Springs.
Now the Rocky Mountain News, August 7, 1894 informs us that detectives Eales and Duffield were assigned by Chief of Police Armstrong of Denver to extract a confession from one of the accused tar-and-featherers, Joe Wilson, who eventually implicated the sheriff's department in El Paso County.
In the same issue, we are told that Tarsney had since returned to Colorado Springs, where he was to face charges of contempt of court. He was guarded on his journey by the highest officers of the National Guard, the attorney general, and six Denver city detectives: Eales, Duffield, Connors, Peterson, Cross and Parker.
The piece of the puzzle that interests us most comes from an August 16, 1894 article in the Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette:
Yesterday Peter Eales and Detectives Duffield, Harris and Lew Blonger came down and as usual landed in Oldtown. The usual batch of warrants that usually follows Eales's advent to this county have failed to materialize, up to date.
So was "Lew" also a city detective? Or does the sentence merely seem to imply that Lou was also a detective?
For his part, Eales was a former marshal of Cripple Creek, and later absconded to Alaska with $6000 he had been sent to retrieve in an official capacity.
Bottom line, the story is becoming clearer, and all the strands would suggest that the larger situation was one that should have concerned Lou and Sam greatly, on several levels as mine owners, as players on the Denver political scene, and perhaps as "law enforcement professionals" of some kind. There may be an important chapter here.
There is almost certainly more to know. Unfortunately for us, the brothers also had a cozy relationship with the local papers, and rarely saw their name in print where others would not have the luxury.