Colorado Territorial Notary, Eugene Weston, 1862

Colorado Territory Map 1860Colorado Territorial Notary, Eugene Weston, 1862

Eugene Weston, a pioneer of southern Colorado, and a territorial notary was born in Bloomfield (now Skowhegan), Maine, Sept. 24, 1835. A remote ancestor came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, in 1065, and at this date, our subject still has the ancient Weston coat-of-arms and crest. A nearer ancestor was Thomas Weston of London, who bought and outfitted the good ship Mayflower in 1620 at his own expense.

The family organized a colony and settled in Salem, Mass., in 1644. His grandfather was one of the first settlers in the wilds of Maine in 1774. He was a merchant, land surveyor and magistrate.

The father of Eugene settled in West Springfield, Mass., in 1847, but in 1850 purchased a farm near Henry, Ill., which Eugene and his brothers tilled, attending the common school a part of each winter. In the winter of 1857-58 Eugene taught a school. In June of the latter year, he went to St. Louis; thence in August to Kansas near Atchison, where he clerked in a store.

Pikes Peak Gold Rush

The following spring of 1859 he joined a party for Pike’s Peak, but in due course met a big stampede of more than 3.000 wagons returning from the alleged gold fields, which caused his company to turn back.

On reaching the Missouri river, Weston joined a trading outfit bound to New Mexico. In the winter of ’59-60, he taught school.

In the spring of 1860 he drove an ox-team to California Gulch, worked in the mines and prospected until the ensuing fall; then located in Canon City.

Farming in Pueblo County

In 1861 he farmed a tract of land on the St. Charles in Pueblo County. The next year he engaged in the same pursuit near the town of Pueblo, where he promoted the erection of the first flouring mill built in southern Colorado, for which service he was granted an eighth individual interest in the Pueblo townsite.

Law Enforcement in Pueblo

In the fall of 1862 he was elected constable, and for nearly two years thereafter was the only executive officer in the county, which embraced all the territory between Beaver Creek, twenty-two miles west of Pueblo, to the east line of the state, including a part of Huerfano. When a sheriff was elected Weston became his deputy.

During the summer of 1864, he was an active partner in building a swing ferry-boat across the Arkansas River.

Sand Creek Massacre monument
Sand Creek Massacre, 3d Colorado Cavalry

In August 1864, he enlisted in Company G., 3d Colorado cavalry, and with it served in the memorable Battle of Sand Creek.

Pueblo County Clerk and Court Clerk

He built and filled the first ice house in Pueblo.

In the spring of 1865, he was appointed deputy county clerk. There was no courthouse, no county or court seals, no books of record save a three folio ruled day-book. The county and court records and papers were jumbled together in a candle box.

He was also appointed deputy clerk of the United States court, 3d judicial district, and on taking possession found the papers of the court in the same condition. Later he was made clerk of the county court: secured a license to practice as claim agent to procure discharges and pay for the enlisted men of the 3d cavalry.

Colorado Governor John EvansFirst Territorial Notary Public in Pueblo County

Mr. Weston was the first territorial notary public in all the region south of Denver. When he entered the service of Pueblo county, its warrants were worth only 15 cents on the dollar: there was no money in the treasury; no county commissioners, no assessor. The public debt amounted to $5,000. No assessment had been made for two years.

[photo: Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans, 1862-1865, appointed by Abraham Lincoln. The Governor appointed one territorial notary for each county. Only men were notaries.]

Pueblo County Clerk

In the fall of 1865 he was elected county clerk, and soon afterward drafted a bill authorizing a special assessment, which was passed by the territorial legislature with an emergency clause.

The commissioners appointed an assessor, and in the spring of 1866, the country was assessed for a special tax to pay its indebtedness and for current expenses. He caused the collection of a forfeited criminal bond, with the proceeds of which a building for court uses was purchased. He designed the county and court seals and secured from Philadelphia a full set of record books at a cost of $600.

Pueblo County Assessor

He was appointed assessor, and also census taker, finding in the latter capacity a total population of 800 in the county which then embraced 40 by 160 square miles. There were only five marriageable girls, three of whom were of Mexican birth.

In 1866 he pre-empted the tract which is now covered by the courthouse and some of the more costly residences of the city but lost it by a contest.

In the fall of 1867, he was a candidate for county clerk but was defeated.

Merchandise Freighter

During the winter of 1867-68, he freighted merchandise between Pueblo, Fort Lyon, Trinidad, and Denver.

Deputy U.S. Marshall

In the spring of 1868, as deputy United States marshal, he was given charge of a band of robbers and outlaws, led by the notorious Elias Coe, alias “Tex,” then being tried in the United States court.

Builder and Contractor

In the summer of 1868. as a contractor and builder, he built St. Peter’s church. The next winter he took a contract to subdivide public lands in and near the present town of La Junta, and during that season secured a charter, and, with Mr. Lewis Conley, organized the first Odd Fellows’ lodge instituted south of the Divide.

The season of 1870 was passed in contracting and building.

Moved to Canon City

In the spring of 1871, he settled in Canon City, and the ensuing fall organized Christ Church at that place.

In 1876 he made a collection of the minerals of Fremont County for the Centennial Exposition, but it was not forwarded.

In 1878 he engaged in the real estate business, and in 1881 organized the Colorado Pioneers’ society of Fremont County, being elected secretary.

In 1882 he was appointed a commissioner to collect the minerals of that county for exhibition at Denver.

Feb. 25. 1884, he married Miss Nellie Pearson of Manchester, N. H. He was one of the promoters of the county Horticultural society and was its secretary.

Grand Canon Plaster & Cement Company

In 1890 he was the chief organizer and vice-president of the Grand Canon Plaster & Cement company, to utilize the immense deposit of gypsum and alabaster east of Canon City, spending the summer in developing this the most wonderful deposit of alabaster in the world.

In 1891 he collected the minerals of Fremont County for the Mineral Palace of Pueblo. He had a family of two daughters and one son.

The foregoing rapid epitome indicates an extremely active, useful and eventful life, his connection with the primary stages of Pueblo history being especially interesting.

History of Colorado Frank Hall 1895History of the State of Colorado, Embracing Accounts of the Pre-historic Races and Their Remains:

The Earliest Spanish, French and American Explorations … the First American Settlements Founded; the Original Discoveries of Gold in the Rocky Mountains; the Development of Cities and Towns, with the Various Phases of Industrial and Political Transition, from 1858 to 1890

Author: Frank Hall, published 1895

Colorado Territorial Notary

Colorado Territory was formed in 1861, from parts of Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Utah Territories, and lasted until statehood in 1876.  There were 17 original counties in Colorado, and the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indian Reservation (Sand Creek Reservation), east of El Paso County and Pueblo County., where the Sand Creek Massacre took place in 1864.

There was one territorial notary for each county. They were county officials.  The Territorial Governor appointed each notary.  Women could not vote or hold public office until 1893.

Today, Colorado has 64 counties and about 80,000 notaries.  They are appointed by the Secretary of State and are state officials.

Photo Credits

  1. Map of Colorado Territory 1861, by Rcsprinter123 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Sand Creek Massacre memorial
  3. Colorado Territory Governor John Evans, by Colorado State Archives (Colorado State Archives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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