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The Cotopaxi Colony


									The Cotopaxi Colony

   Flora Jane Satt

 Annotation & appendices

      Miles Saltiel

Part I, The Place                                         1
   Annotations                                            1
   Biography of Emanuel Saltiel                           5
   Imported Labour from Europe                            7
Part 2, The People                                       8
   Government land                                       8
   Agricultural inexperience                             10
   Ekaterinaslav (now Dnieperpetrovsk)                   10
   Free land                                             13
   Working capital                                       13
   Moneys from HEAS                                      14
   Indebtedness                                          14
   Cattle, horses, wagons and feed                       15
   HEAS or HIAS                                          16
   Schwarz 1: The report of 23 October 1882              17
   The winter in New York                                17
   Depleted resources                                    18
Part 3, The Events                                       18
   Quarter sections                                      19
   Deficiencies                                          19
   Schwarz 2: “Saltiel’s partner”                        19
   Self-defence—1: neighbours’ cattle                    20
   Saltiel’s conduct                                     20
   Kitchen gossip                                        20
   On foot                                               21
   Credit from the store                                 21
   Schwarz 3: “Avenue of communications”                 21
   Spring sowing                                         22
   No animals to feed                                    22
   Schwarz 4: “Saltiel’s lawyer”                         23
   The crisis                                            24
   Self-defence—2: bears                                 24
   European guns                                         24
   Rebates                                               25
   Lost money                                            25
   Self-defence—3: begging tribesmen                     25
   Wages and scrip                                       25
   The sequence of events                                26
   The cost of keep                                      26
   Three prominent men from Denver                       26
   “Unasavory personal reputation”                       27
   HEAS’ report on the colonists                         27
   HEAS’ settlement with the colonists                   28
   Smoke and mirrors                                     28
Part 4, Conclusions                                      31
   Why Cotopaxi failed                                   32
Appendix One—A note on sources                           35
Appendix Two—Timeline                                    41
Appendix Three—Summary of allegations                    43
                                       Publication data
                                        The Cotopaxi Colony,
                              Unpublished M.A. thesis by Flora Jane Satt,
                                    University of Colorado, 1950

                          Available at
                                      All rights acknowledged.

Annotations and appendices by Miles Saltiel                                           August 2005.
Revised to incorporated references to Report of Julius Schwarz to HEAS, Oct 1882,
and correspondence between Kohn/Wirkowski and Henry, Jan/Feb 1883 ,                 September 2005
Revised to incorporated references to monographs by Osofsky and Geffen              December 2005
                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel
                        Part I, The Place
                                                                            I have recently learned that Flora Jane
                                                                            Satt (Satt hereinafter) survives, but I
                                                                            have been unable to make direct contact
Cotopaxi, a small, unincorporated village on the banks of the Ar-           with her. I hereby acknowledge her rights
                                                                            as the author of the original material and
kansas River, has been the scene of an unusual chapter in Colo-             apologise to her for editing it without her
                                                                            permission. Needless to say, she has no
                                                                            responsibility for my work. I have left her
rado history. This oddly-named town, today just a “whistle-stop”            text but removed her notes, which go
                                                                            principally to sources, to make room for
on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, thirty-three                 my comments. I have also provided
                                                                            appendices as follows:
miles west of Cañon City in Fremont County, is mentioned in                   1.Notes on sources
many encyclopedias and books on American agricultural colonies.               3. Summary of allegations
Environmental factors are always important in analyzing an his-             My commentary relies on a close reading
                                                                            of Satt in combination with other
torical episode, but particularly in the case of the colony founded         sources. These particularly include a
                                                                            previously overlooked contemporaneous
here because its failure has been attributed solely to these factors.       report by Julius Schwarz, the agent of the
                                                                            Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society, the
                                                                            promoters of the colony and its self-
The naming, founding and description of its physical features are           styled General Manager.

necessary for an appreciation of Cotopaxi’s role in this history.           To summarise my understanding, the
                                                                            Cotopaxi settlement was promoted amid
                                                                            a climate of euphoria about the prospects
                                                                            for settling the high plains and the scope
                                                                            for Jewish participation in agriculture.
The man responsible for the strange name was Henry Thomas,                  Like every other Jewish agricultural
                                                                            colony in the U.S., it was doomed to
known to contemporaries as “Gold Tom”. He was an itinerant                  failure. In this case, the settlement was
                                                                            underfinanced and the colonists had little
prospector who left the Central City gold camp in 1867, and                 background in farming and none in the
                                                                            social, legal or geographical conditions of
crossed the Divide to investigate the Upper Arkansas Valley                 the high plains, which combined to
                                                                            thwart them.
around California Gulch. There he conceived the idea that some of           The would-be pioneers were no helpless
                                                                            victims; some were former proprietors
the heavier gold might have washed downstream so he continued               and business-people. They had lost most
                                                                            of their resources in the political
                                                                            turbulence of Tsarist Russia and the
south along the river, reaching the forks near the present site of          balance over a winter of inactivity in New
                                                                            York City. They turned up in Cotopaxi
Salida about 1870. At the same time, the Denver and Rio Grande              destitute, after changing their plans from
                                                                            stock-raising to agriculture—unsuited for
Railroad began its survey of a proposed transcontinental route              the locality. On arrival they contrived to
                                                                            lose an ox-team on the way to their
through the Arkansas Valley By October 31, 1872 track had been              farmsteads, then giving up good land and
                                                                            water rights to prior settlers, crops to
                                                                            roaming cattle, and winter supplies to
laid as far west on this route as Labran, seven miles east of Cañon         bears and tribesmen. They sowed crops
                                                                            three months into a four-month growing
City , and Henry Thomas had taken a job with the railroad to aug-           season and survived on credit estimated
                                                                            at between $1,545 and $8,000 together
ment his meager prospecting income. His duties included procur-             with wages from the Denver and Rio
                                                                            Grande Railroad, where Schwarz had
ing timber for ties and this meant he had to scout not only the re-         arranged work for them.
                                                                            Within half a year or so of their arrival
gion then being graded but neighboring valleys and mountains.               they were in touch with a Denver
                                                                            attorney and campaigning against Saltiel
Particularly struck by one of these valleys as closely resembling an        in the Denver press and directly to HEAS.
                                                                            This was either for more credit, or
                                                                            forgiveness of their obligations to Saltiel
area he had once prospected in northern Ecuador, he named the               or to HEAS, or for the grubstake they
                                                                            obtained once it became clear that the
Colorado counterpart after the dominant Andean geographic fea-              colony was not viable. This created a
                                                                            tradition of demonisation which persists
ture, a volcano called “Cotopaxi”. At the juncture of the small             to this day, principally driven by Satt’s
tributary streams which flow into the Arkansas River at Cotopaxi,              Please note: All page references
                                                                                 to Satt are to this document.
Colorado, looking westward through the narrow canyon of the

       The Cotopaxi Colony

river, one can see a conical-shaped peak, part of the Sangre de
Cristo Range, framed by the steep walls of the canyon, Old resi-
dents of the area who knew Henry (Gold Tom) Thomas say that it
is this unusual view which recalled to his mind the Andean vol-
cano and caused him to call the little valley by the odd-sounding
Spanish name. In 1873 he built a cabin there as a base for his pros-
pecting in the surrounding hills. In 1874 he had filed several min-
ing claims at Cañon City and is credited with the discovery of the
Cotopaxi Lode, one of the richest deposits of silver with zinc in
Fremont County.

The small streams mentioned above are ephemeral, becoming
quite dry in summer and fall, although they have been destructive
during the spring flood stage. The northern one is known as Ber-
nard Creek and the southern one, which flows out of the tip of
(the) Wet Mountain valley, is called Oak Grove Creek. They join
the Arkansas where a bend in the latter’s course widens the valley
floor to about one mile in width. This confluence of streams has
cut an oval-shaped, flat-floored valley almost completely encircled
by steep, rocky cliffs. So narrow is the canyon cut by the Arkansas
immediately beyond Cotopaxi that the Denver and Rio Grande
tracks run along a man-made ledge cut out of the rock walls. The
town itself lies at an elevation of 6,718 feet above sea level, while
the elevation of the transecting valleys rises in a steep gradient to
8,000 feet within four miles.

There are several such valleys along the Arkansas River between
Cañon City and Salida and these were first utilized by the Denver
and Rio Grande Railroad as sites for warehouses and for water,
wood and coal storage. Henry (Gold Tom) Thomas built a shed to
house his ties at Cotopaxi in 1874. It was not until late in 1878 that
some of these storage sites became depots, post offices and town-
sites, due to the four-year delay caused by the famous “Royal
Gorge War”. Bitter legal battles in the courts and violent physical
struggles along the right-of-way itself between the Denver and Rio

                                Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

Grande and the Santa Fe railroads divided the people of the region
into warring camps. This controversy was held responsible for the
retarded economic development of western Fremont County.

Mineral resources did not attract population to Fremont County,
at least in a manner experienced by other counties. It never be-
came a center of refining or smelting as did Pueblo County, al-
though early in the 1880’s Cañon City was vying with Pueblo for
the title of “Pittsburgh of the West”. The best source of gold and
silver was in the southern half of the county, which was separated
for the northern half in April of 1877. This new section was named
Custer County and as the scene several years later of several spec-
tacular mining booms.

The only comparable gold and silver mines in Fremont County
were the Gem and the Cotopaxi Lodes but considerable deposits of
coal, oil and iron were found and developed elsewhere in the
county. Also, unusual metals such as nickel, molybdenum and
pure zincblende were mined. In general, mining laws in Fremont
Count conformed to those and were patterned after the laws of
other Colorado mining counties, except where coal and oil devel-
opment required different provisions.

There was no placer gold to attract large “rushes” of “Panners” and
“Fly-by-nighters” as in Clear Creek or Gilpin Counties. No one ex-
cept Carl Wulsten prospected for silver in Fremont County before
1872. When silver was discovered in large quantities in the region,
it proved to be vary difficult to mine (with the exception of the
horn silver at Silver Cliff), requiring skilled labor, considerable
capital investment, as well as metallurgical experience to handle
the ore in reduction works. The coal and oil deposits were mostly
accidental discoveries, made while surveying for farms or digging
artesian wells or irrigation ditches.

Despite the altitude and aridity of the Fremont County section of
the Arkansas Valley, it was early considered to be favorable for ag-
        The Cotopaxi Colony

riculture. The arable valleys were settled early in Colorado Terri-
tory’s history and the abundance of water was looked upon as a
decided advantage over the lower, but drier, sections downstream.
Nevertheless, these other regions soon surpassed Fremont County
in agricultural production. Historians have offered many reasons
for this situation. Hubert Howe Bancroft cited the delay in rail
connection caused by the “Royal Gorge War” as the main deter-
rent. Alvin Steinel, professor at Colorado Agricultural College,
pointed to the engineering difficulties of getting the water, admit-
tedly most abundant, up on the plateaus where it was needed.
These difficulties prevented cultivation. B.F. Rockafellow, an early
settler in the county, remarks on the lack of mills and other proc-
essing facilities as the cause of Fremont Count’s slow develop-

During the 1860’s corn and wheat were planted in Fremont
County, but weather and soil conditions were found to be unfavor-
able to them. Then fruit-raising, particularly apples and pears, was
attempted and soon supplanted all else in the region. The pioneer
in horticulture was Jesse Frazer, known throughout the United
States as the developer of the “Colorado orange apple”.

However, it was not until later that fruit-raising was recognized as
the proper agricultural pursuit for Fremont County, after group at-
tempts in the early 1870’s with grain crops had failed. These
groups had felt that the collective method of the “agricultural col-
ony” would aid them in solving those larger problems of irrigation
and finance that the individual farmer could not surmount. The
first of these was the German Colony at Colfax in [the] Wet Moun-
tain Valley. The second was the Mormon Colony which located
near Ula in 1871. Then a group of English people settled near
Westcliffe in 1872. Some ten years later still another agricultural
colony was established in Fremont County, the Russian Jewish
one, which came to the Cotopaxi area and farmed lands along Oak
Grove and Bernard Creeks controlled by Emanuel H. Saltiel.

                                             Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

Saltiel was a Portuguese Jew from New York City who had come to
Colorado in 1867. By 1876 the Cotopaxi area had begun to attract a
few settlers and many mining prospectors. Several shafts had been
opened and sluices put in operation at the site of Gold Tom’s first
strikes. Saltiel became interested in the Cotopaxi Lode, particu-
larly when he learned that the discoverer, Henry Thomas, did not
have the capital or experience to work it. Saltiels’s business and
political contacts in Denver were well-know in Fremont County
and his influence with officials of the Denver and Rio Grande Rail-
road was sufficient to have that company designate his newly-
acquired property around Cotopaxi as a major stop on their run to
South Arkansas (Salida), build there a large depot and call the stop

Saltiel had filed on 2,000 acres of Government land and made to-
ken payments at the county clerk’s office in Cañon City by 1878.
This acreage was a long, narrow strip running north and south
Oak Grove Creek and Bernard Creek. Within his “property”, which
he defined as a “town and land company” development, Saltiel
Biography of Emanuel Saltiel
Saltiel was not Portuguese but a                   In 1867 he joined with George Barnett to      They are the forbears inter alia of Bob
Sephardic Jew from England, born on                publish the Denver Daily Times, which         Saltiel of Lafayette, California and his
16th October, 1844 (or 1845, documents             folded after a few months. He and Barnett     family. Woolf and Adelaide lived at 152
differ) at 30 James Street, Bath, a spa            then took their printing equipment to the     Orchard Street. Saltiel married three
town in the west of the country. He was            Wyoming territory where in February           times: first in 1866 to Elisabeth Woolf, his
named after his maternal grandfather,              1868 they published the History and           pre-war sweetheart from New Orleans.
Emanuel Harris. His father’s occupation            Business Directory of Cheyenne and            He and Elisabeth had three children, the
is given as shoemaker. He served as an             Guide to the Mining Regions of the Rocky      forbears inter alia of the Tenants of
“Officer of Cadets” in the Tenth Tower             Mountains. The record shows that he           Indiana, Dewey Exxon of Vista,
Hamlets Riflemen. He then emigrated to             spent the next fifteen years between the      California, and Staff Sergeant William
New Orleans and in the Civil War                   Rocky Mountains and New York City.            Salter of Hermiston Oregon, currently
mustered to the Confederacy. In                    From 1870 to 1872 he is listed as a           serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.
September 1864 he was a Lieutenant,                resident variously of 270 West 38th Street,   Saltiel and Elisabeth divorced circa 1881,
acting as an aide de campe when he was             and 544 Broadway, both in New York            Elisabeth turning up in New York the year
taken prisoner when Atlanta was taken by           City. He reported the occupation of editor    after Saltiel left, that is 1886. On 14th
Sherman’s army. In prison camp, he                 and (from a business address at 37 Park       February 1883, he married Fanny
assumed the identity of Joseph Isaacs to           Avenue) patent agent.                         Shelvelson. This mésalliance ended in
escape an outbreak of retaliatory                                                                divorce a year later, whereupon he
executions of Confederate officers and he          At more or less this time, his name           married Annie Phelan who survived him.
enlisted under that name to serve as a             appears in the record of the Rocky            He had no children by his second or third
private in the US Army on the western              Mountain region as founder of the Saltiel     marriages.
frontier. In boot camp he was promptly             Mica and Porcelain Company. Later in life
made up to Sergeant.                               he was the proprietor of the Cotopaxi         Saltiel ended his days in January 1900 at
                                                   Placer Mining Co. and the Colorado Zinc       the abandoned township of Seminoe,
In May 1866 he was discharged from the             Co. From 1883 to 1885, he was once again      twenty miles north-east of Rawlins,
army in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, after               listed as a resident of New York City with    Wyoming, where he had been promoting
being found guilty of “disloyalty” at a            a home on Madison Avenue at East 126th        an integrated coal and iron works.
kangaroo court martial. The record                 Street and an establishment where he          Although his grave in Rawlins is
immediately following is confusing as the          listed himself as a civil engineer at 50      unmarked, the record of his burial
New York Tribune announcement of his               Exchange Street in the financial district.    denominates him as a Jew.
marriage dated 23rd November 1866 gives
his address as West 77th Street, New York          Also at this time, he brought his brother,    As an addendum, this note serves also to
City, though we know that at this time he          Woolf, and his sister-in-law to be,           correct Ida Libert Uchill’s erroneous
was writing for the local paper in Denver.         Adelaide Ginsburg, to the United States.      identification of Saltiel as South African.
                                                                                                 (Uchill, Op. cit., p175 in original).

       The Cotopaxi Colony

also filed at least seven separate mining claims. These claims were
quite clear and indisputable, for shortly after registering them at
the County Clerk’s office in Cañon City , he had his workers con-
struct shafts and tunnels and other improvements on the vein out-
crops and had spent well over the minimum of $500 required by
the Law of 1872, thus acquiring a clear patent to the mineral lands
thereon. These seven claims, all located within the broader
boundaries of his proposed town-site, were along the streams, us-
ing their scant water for sluicing and other mining operations.

The appellation “Cotopaxi” clung to the area despite the honor be-
stowed on its leading citizen by the railroad when it built the depot
and warehouses and named the stop “Saltiels”. By 1879 eight per-
manent buildings had been constructed and more were in the off-
ing. Several large residences were built. Elaborate plans for a plaza
or public park were drawn up and commerce got under way with a
hotel, blacksmith shop, general store and a saw-mill. Efforts to es-
tablish a saloon and gambling hall were thwarted by the virtuous
townspeople, but a meeting house which served as school and
church were built that year. At the same time, the government es-
tablished a post office in the town, but changed the name back to
Cotopaxi. By 1880 the town ranked sixth in population in Fremont
County. Saltiel had his assay office, mine and milling headquarters
in a small building adjacent to the hotel which he owned in con-
nection with one of his partners, A. S. Hart.

Saltiel was generally credited with the discovery and exploitation
of most of the important mineral veins in the region, particularly
the famous Cotopaxi Lode and the Enterprise Mine. But since
Henry (Gold Tom) Thomas had been prospecting the area since
1873 and had filed mining claims thereon with the County Clerk in
1874, there seems to be sound basis for a claim controversy. It is
recorded that Saltiel bought out Thomas’ rights for insignificant
amounts, in relation to what was taken out. However, there was
little alternative for the independent, small-time miner, owing to

                                              Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

the nature of the ores involved, all of which required much capital
equipment and complicated processes to refine. Saltiel’s experi-
ence business connections and vast wealth put him in a superior
position in this respect.

However he soon ran into other difficulties. With the discovery of
much richer lodes in southern Fremont County (Custer County
now) labor supply became practically nonexistent in the Cotopaxi
area. Saltiel had always been reluctant to pay adequate wages, in
relation to neighboring mine owners. “Help-wanted ads” began
appearing in the Denver and eastern papers, but even his elo-
quence there could not buck the competition of the simultaneous
strikes in Leadville, Rosita, and Western Slope camps. In addition,
those who did not care for a miner’s life could take jobs with the
railroads which were then also expanding at a prodigious rate.
Saltiel’s ingenious solution to this seemingly insurmountable
problem was to import his own labor supply from Europe.
Imported labour from Europe
This is of the essence of the “fraud” claim         A formerly overlooked contemporaneous         It is far more of a piece with the traditions
but on scrutiny turns out to strain                 source demolishes the “sweated labour”        of Jewish business conduct that a
credulity. Satt argues (here, p25, and p33)         thesis once and for all. In a document        prosperous entrepreneur at the heart of
that Saltiel always intended the colony to          dated October 1882, the self-styled           the local Jewish community should seek
fail so that the pioneers would be obliged          General Manager of the colony, Julius         prestige from public works than that he
to work his mine. The record confirms               Schwarz, (whom Satt characterises as          should court public obloquy by abusing
that the region suffered from a labour              Saltiel’s partner) wrote that he had          his coreligionists above a township
shortage at the time, with miners drawn             arranged work at $2.00 per day from the       formerly bearing his name. On this view,
to richer lodes to the south. But so                Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for as         the collapse should be seen as the reverse
intricate a scheme is far-fetched, arguing          many colonists as wanted it(p13).             of Saltiel’s intentions. After all, it afforded
for a degree of long-term planning hard to          Schwarz also records without                  him no profit; embarrassed him with his
credit given the unpredictability inherent          embarrassment that the colonists had          neighbours in Cotopaxi and Denver;
in frontier conditions; and for a degree of         already worked in a mine, presumably          made for complications with HEAS
patience implausible on the part of                 Saltiel’s (also p13). This is at odds with    however amicably resolved; and has given
employers said to be crying out for                 the narrative offered by Satt. She states     him a reputation for villainy unchallenged
labour.                                             that it was Saltiel’s hard–heartedness        until the new evidence thrown up by the
                                                    which obliged the settlers to accept work     Shealtiel: A Famly Saga and the
The notion that Saltiel sought to engineer          in his mine in the “the winter months”        rediscovery of Schwarz’ contemporaneous
a pool of captive labour unravels on a              and that they then moved to the railroad.     report
close examination of the very accounts              (Satt, p25). In sum, with scant evidence of
intended to support it. Roberts (op cit             a pressing labour shortage at Saltiel’s       With hindsight we can say that Saltiel had
p127-8) writes, “A few of the men were              mine and the reverse of any evidence of       himself to blame for over-optimism in
able to obtain temporary employment                 coercion, we may recognise the “sweated       promoting the scheme to HEAS and he
from the Saltiel mine”. This meagre take-           labour” thesis as a fallacy. See              might have been more patient with the
up of the labour represented by the                  Appendix 1—A note on Sources and             colonists after their first summer. With
colonists is inconsistent with a labour             Appendix 3—Allegations.                       that same hindsight, however, we can also
shortage so acute as to call for the                                                              say that there is nothing he could have
prolonged timescale (see Appendix 2—                The material in the sidebar, Schwarz’         done: every such colony in the U.S.
Timeline) or Byzantine complexities of              report on p17 strongly supports my long-      collapsed. See Appendix 3—
Saltiel’s alleged plot. Nor is there any            standing surmise—whatever the howls of        Allegations, for an expansion on these
evidence of compulsion. Tom Young,                  outrage from those who grew up on the         points.
Cotopaxi’s historian, has confirmed that            tradition of Saltiel’s villainy—that he
the colonists were free to work elsewhere           planned an act of high-profile
and the record confirms that they did so,           benefaction.
at neighbouring mines and on the

                                                The Cotopaxi Colony

                                                                Part II, The People

                                          The people (see accompanying list after page 29) who comprised
                                          the Cotopaxi Colony in the spring of 1882 were Russian Jews from
                                          the provinces of Volhynia, Kiev and Ekaterinaslav. Sixty-three per-
Government land.
This should be read in conjunction with   sons in all, there were twenty-two “heads of family”, each of whom
HEAS’ records, which show $10,000 of
funding including $8,750 for land and     were eligible to file on 160 acres of government land. Actually,
                                          most of the sixty-three were members of only three main family
                                          clans, consisting of several generations and relatives by marriage.
                                          Among these three families, too, there was much intermarriage
                                          and nearly every colonist at Cotopaxi was related to the others by
                                          ties of blood or marriage, the only exception being close friends
                                          who had attached themselves to one “patriarch” and were consid-
                                          ered as “adopted”. This aggregation had been well solidified in
                                          Europe, and the experiences of the pogroms, the emigration and
                                          the events at Cotopaxi served to weld it even more firmly together.

                                          The traceable nucleus of the group begins in the early 19th century
                                          with a movement among the inhabitants of the Pale known as
                                          “Haskalah” or “Enlightenment”, which sought a middle road be-
                                          tween the “fathers and sons”,between the extremes of fanaticism
                                          espoused on the one hand by the “Hasidim” and on the other hand
                                          by those who denied Judaism or cultural assimilation. The disci-
                                          ples of modernisation were known as the “Maskilim”, and were de-
                                          spised by both extremes among their own people and certainly not
                                          given much encouragement by the Czarist government. This, in
                                          spite of its program for gradual “Russification”, for establishment
                                          of Crown Schools, and for urging cooperation with the govern-
                                          ment. By mid-century the Maskilim concentrated their energy on
                                          combating the “Tzaddicks”, the superstition-ridden, mystical ob-
                                          scurantists, chiefly by means of satire. Even so, the Maskilim
                                          themselves were dismissed by the more violent, modern young
                                          “assimilationists” as too slow and conservative to be considered

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

One of the important leaders of this Haskalah movement within
the Pale was an idealistic Volhynian, Isaac Baer Levinsohn, known
as the “Moses Mendelsohn” of Russia. Alexander II’s program of
social amalgamation. Clearly, the children of Jacob and Malka
Milstein inherited a view of the Jewish problem quite different
from their neighbors in Brest, and it was these same children who,
by the 1860’s and 1870’s led the Maskilim of the province who fa-
vored secular education, a moderate religious position and the
“back-to-the-land” dream.

By 1874, with the failure of the Czar’s agricultural colonies and the
‘drift toward oppression’ of the Jews, it became apparent that the
Maskilim program would achieve very little. The sudden change of
Czar Alexander II’s policies and open anti-Semitism began with
the Law of 1874 which restored the unfair methods of juvenile
conscription for the Jewish population. The attempts at cultural
fusion through secular education were recognized as utter failures
and by 1873 a ukase closed the two rabbinical schools at Vilna and
Zhitomir. Also the “melammeds” renewed their attacks on the

Jacob and Malka Milstein’s youngest son, Isaac Leib, was forced to
become an “only son” to a childless couple named Shames in order
to escape the dreaded quarter-century of military service, a threat
that had not menaced the Milstein family for many generations
since they were of the exempt estate. Their eldest son, Saul Baer,
had experienced during his lifetime the pendulum swing of gov-
ernment attitude toward Jews; first, liberalism, then, persecution
intensified after the Polish Insurrection of 1863. As a child Saul
imbibed the ideas of Haskalah enthusiastically, and as a young
man he prepared to become a “Crown Rabbi” himself by attending
the seminary at Zhitomir. He had encouraged his younger brother
Benjamin to apply for the agricultural colony in Ekaterinaslav and
had watched him, several cousins and friends go off in high spirits
to farm--only to see most of them return discouraged and beaten

                                                     The Cotopaxi Colony

                                               in 1866 when the “last straw” had broken the backs of the ‘camels’.
                                               By 1870 even those Jews who had farmed their lands since Czar
                                               Nicholas’s reign were evicted and their lands distributed among
                                               the newly-emancipated serfs.

Agricultural inexperience                      With the death of his father in 1861 Saul Baer Milstein became the
This account tells us that most of the         spiritual leader and business advisor to many people in Brest Li-
would-be farmers had no background on
the land itself, but with leadership
coming from a group with a background          tovsk and in the small rural villages in the Pripet River Valley, the
in the business of agricultural supply.
The Millsteins had run a business with         vicinity wherein various Jewish families lived and produced the
offices in three cities separated by
hundreds of miles. They provided the           supplies for his warehouses and commission business. The Mil-
leadership of the group and accounted
directly for five (and by marriage for
another four) of the 22 family groups
                                               stein family had been in this business for several generations since
enumerated by Satt. Their background
helps explain their unfamiliarity with the     coming to Russia from Germany. As the eldest son, Saul Baer in-
narrowly agricultural aspect of their
predicament, and may offer an insight          herited the management of the entire concern, as well as his fa-
into the group’s propensity for dispute,
consistent with the skill-set of former        ther’s role in the community of leader and teacher. His was the
businessmen. Appendix 2—Timeline
makes it clear that the Ekaterinaslav          controlling voice in matters not only relating to business but in
settlement came to an end eleven years
before the pioneers turned up at
Cotopaxi.                                      family and social affairs as well. Nearly all employed by the firm
                                               were relatives. In addition to Saul Baer’s duties as head of a large
                                               business with branches in Grodno, Kiev, and Brody, he also taught
                                               classes in those secular subjects which were not offered in the
                                               “yeshivahs” of Brest Litovsk.

Ekaterinaslav                                  By 1871 his younger brother Benjamin had returned to Brest Li-
(now Dnieperpetrovsk)
This city is close to the Black Sea coast in   tovsk from the colony in Ekaterinaslav with his wife Hannah and
what is now the Ukraine—as it happens
the original home of my own maternal           their son Jacob. He was angry at the Russian Government’s treat-
grandfather. An agricultural colony there
would benefit from the fertility of the
fabled “black earth” and ample water,
                                               ment of the Jewish colonists, but was still determined to prove
poor preparation for the plateaus of the
Rockies.                                       that the Jews of the Pale could become successful farmers if af-
                                               forded any sort of equality of opportunity. But Russia seemingly
                                               did not want Jews on the land, and it became increasingly difficult
                                               to produce the grain and other supplies needed in the commission
                                               house, since Christians were forbidden to sell their produce to
                                               Jewish wholesalers. Saul Baer was much impressed with reports
                                               from America concerning the liberal Homestead Act, whose bene-
                                               fits could apply even to immigrants who had filed declaration of
                                               intention to become citizens. Disappointed with the progress made
                                               by conciliation, cooperation and meekness advocated by Maskil-

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

ism, he began to consider leaving Russia to begin a new life in
America. The sale of the commission business should provide
enough to finance such a move for the entire family group. There-
fore, strengthened in his determination by the Repressive Acts of
1874, 1875, and 1876, Saul Baer encouraged his nephew Jacob,
who had grown up on a farm, to leave Russia, where he was in
danger of being drafted for twenty-five years’ service in the Czar’s
Army, and travel to America to investigate the provisions of this
Homestead Act and look over the possibilities for establishing the
‘clan’ in the United States.

Thus it was that in 1878 Jacob Milstein left Brest Litovsk to seek
out land for members of his family and those others who wished to
emigrate with them. He was to act as “advance scout” and to send
back all the information on homesteading to his uncle, the leader
of the proposed ‘colony’. Was the American government really as
tolerant of Jews as they had been led to believe? No special taxes?
Freedom of worship? While he was learning these things, as well
as the English language, his uncle Saul Baer would send him a
monthly allowance to cover his living and travelling expenses.

But within a year of his departure from Russia Jacob had incurred
the wrath of his uncle. He received no more money and for a time
the gravity of his offense threatened the plans for the entire
group’s migration. Jacob’s “sin” had been to persuade Nettie Mil-
stein, Saul Baer’s eldest child, with whom he had been in love for
some time, to run away and join him in America where they could
be married. Nettie was her father’s favorite child, and he had lav-
ished on her all his affection and material wealth. He had educated
her as thoroughly as any of his sons and had taken her with him on
business trips throughout Europe. By the time she was twenty
years old, in 1878, a confirmed spinster by Jewish standards, she
was able to relieve her father of many of his duties at the commis-
sion house, in order that he might devote more time to his studies
and pupils, as she preferred a business career to marriage, having

      The Cotopaxi Colony

refused to accept any of the suitors offered her by the “shadchens”.
She was in love with Jacob, her first cousin, and since her father
naturally opposed such a union, Nettie simply rejected marriage
with anyone else, but when Jacob left Russia and the all-pervasive
influence of his patriarchal uncle, Saul Baer, Nettie was impelled
to flee and disregard convention, religion and social ostracism by
going to Jacob in America. Leaving Brest Litovsk in November of
1879, Nettie journeyed to the home of relatives in Hamburg, Ger-
many, where she awaited passage money from her fiancé.

Cut off from his uncle’s support, Jacob Milstein took a job in a tin
factory in New York City. He learned English rapidly and also
earned enough to put some aside as ‘capital’ with which to pros-
pect for a colony site as well as passage money for his bride-to-be
from Germany. But he had worked little more than a year when an
industrial accident deprived him of the sight of one eye. It is note-
worthy for those days that the owner of the factory recognized his
responsibility in the matter of the accident and made arrange-
ments for a pension to be paid his young employee-victim. Jacob
was thus able to afford proper medical care and rest without re-
sorting to charity. While recuperating, he became acquainted with
the work being done by the well-known American Jew, Michael

The latter, in 1880, was already busy organizing the Jews of the
United States into a relief society to aid in the temporary support
of the rapidly increasing number of immigrants pouring into the
country from Russia, caused by the increasing rigor of Czar Alex-
ander II’s policies against the Jewish population. Western Jews
were beginning to realize the hopeless plight of their Russian co-
religionists, due particularly to their peculiar economic and politi-
cal status in the Czar’s Empire. Historically sympathetic through-
out the Diaspora, the more fortunate Western Jews had earlier
formed aid societies, such as the “Alliance Israelite Universelle”,
guided by Adolphe Cremieux and Moses Montefiore. Michael Heil-

                                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

prin had kept in close touch with representatives of this organiza-
tion, which had announced a plan at a meeting in Paris in the
spring of 1880 to settle refugees in the new and undeveloped
countries in South America, South Africa, Australia and especially
in North America, where the United States offered even aliens the
benefits of their liberal Homestead Act. This plan appealed greatly
to Michael Heilprin, who for years had been urging young immi-
grant Jews to leave the East and try farming, taking advantage of                                  Free land

the Government’s “free land”.                                                                      The reference confirms that the land
                                                                                                   would have no resale value. See the side-
                                                                                                   bar, Smoke and mirrors, on page 28

Prior to 1880, there had been few Jews in America who were able
or eager to follow such advice. Lack of money for land and equip-
ment had not been the main deterrent but rather the lack of any
agricultural experience, coupled with the age-old fear of investing
in land, a commodity not movable nor easily convertible in case of
sudden persecution or expulsion. Therefore, when twenty-year-old
Jacob Milstein, his sightless eye covered by a black patch, came to
Heilprin’s office on State Street in New York City, it seemed an
amazing coincidence. Here was a representative of a Russian Jew-
ish group, whose background seemed promising for the venture,
who were determined to leave Europe permanently, who were
most anxious to “return to the soil” and who best of all, included
members who had been farmers in the short-lived agricultural
colonies for Jews in Southern Russia and also, had adequate fi-
nancial resources for the trip, land investment and living ex-
Working capital
This recognises the need for working                 of the Rockies imposes hibernation upon       3.pdf), I used a bench-mark of the $1 per
capital, the absence of which would                  game, the lack of which is attested by the    day earned by Ed Grimes who walked to
bedevil the colony. This emerges from a              begging bands of Ute (page 25 and             Denver (Roberts, Op. cit., page 130) to
consideration of the season of the colony’s          sidebar). There is no record of a budget to   calculate the sums required for working
foundation, between May and June 1882 .              support the colonists over the interim        capital. I assumed that this sum could
Gulliford op cit para 6)writes                       period of the summer, let alone the           support three adults without obligations
“[t]he immigrants’ first crops were                  winter. Funds are described as                for rent and twice as many children. The
planted in August and September”. If so,             attributable to travel expenses, land and     discussion in Appendix 1—A note on
this obliged a community initially of 26             infrastructure. This leaves nothing for       sources updates this with four estimates
adults and 24 minors and ultimately of 32            working capital, the lack of which became     of store credit based on
adults and 31 minors to wait from the                apparent as soon as the colonists arrived     contemporaneous sources, at between
time of their arrival until harvest, at best         and found themselves obliged to seek          $1,545 and $8,000.
in Autumn 1882, and in the event not till            credit from Saltiel’s store.
1883, before they could hope to become
self-supporting from their own holdings.             In In the footsteps of Emanuel Saltiel
Possibly it was intended that the colonists          (Miles Saltiel, 2003, deposited at the
should hunt, but they lacked firearms,               library of the colony in Cotopaxi and
knowledge of tracking or the local                   available at
country. In any event, the harsh climate             shealtiel/history/emanuel_h_saltiel-

                                                    The Cotopaxi Colony

                                              Coupled with these qualifications and Heilprin’s interest in estab-
                                              lishing experimental Jewish colonies in the United States, was the
Moneys from HEAS
In the event all moneys were subscribed       receipt, in September of 1880, of a most unusual offer from a
by HEAS—$8,750 to Saltiel for land plus
infrastructure; and $1,250 to transport       wealthy Jewish philanthropist, Emanuel H. Saltiel, who professed
the settlers to Colorado. Schwarz October
1882 report claimed expenditures of just      a desire to help in the work outlined by Heilprin in the latter’s
under $10,500 (p10). See Appendix 1-A
note on sources. Schwarz must have
been over-egging the cake as Saltiel          widely-read articles and settle a colony of Jewish farmers on his
eventually returned moneys to HEAS (see
sidebar HEAS or HIAS p16 for                  lands in Wet Mountain Valley near Cotopaxi, Fremont County,
The $8,750 advanced to Saltiel should be
put in context; it represents a year’s
wages for eight or nine miners. Even if we
take Satt’s reference to Saltiel’s“vast       Emanuel H. Saltiel had gone to Colorado after the Civil War and
wealth” on page 7 as hyperbolic, at this
point he was a mine-owner and locally
prominent figure and throughout his           had prospered in mining and milling enterprises, as well as prop-
career capable of raising money from
Denver interests. Why resort to the           erty investments. Although he maintained a home and an office in
Byzantine irregularities alleged for such a
sum? He would have been aware that            New York as well as in Colorado, he was not affiliated with any re-
every aspect of such an enterprise would
attract notice, so why risk disgrace? In      ligious organization. Nevertheless, he wrote several eloquent let-
any event, after the colony failed Saltiel
negotiated a settlement with HEAS as a
result of which he repaid an agreed sum,      ters to Michael Heilprin, expressing his admiration for the latter’s
presumably after taking account inter
alia of supplies advanced to the settlers.    policy advocating agricultural colonies for Jewish immigrants.

Satt writes that land and infrastructure      When Heilprin first spoke with Jacob Milstein it was with the idea
were to be provided by Saltiel for $8,750
and that the remaining $1,250 was to be       of sending this particular group of which he was a representative
raised by the colonists to cover costs of
rail transportation and living expenses en    to homestead on the ‘donated’ lands in Oregon, where soil, water
route to Colorado. On page 17, Satt writes
that HEAS approved $10,000 to cover all
these expenses.                               and market facilities were known to be excellent. However,
On page 18 and as noted in the sidebar,       Saltiel’s letters were very persuasive and promised that he would
Depleted resources, Satt reports that
the colonists arrived virtually destitute.    undertake to construct houses for each family, several large com-
No mention is made of funds for living
expenses after arrival. For the               munal barns and sheds, provide necessary furniture and house-
implications, see the sidebar on
Working capital on page 13.
                                              hold equipment, farm implements, seed, cattle, horses and wagons
On the previous page Satt records the
meticulously remembered figure of $435.       and a year’s supply of feed for the animals. The offer was quite
of indebtedness per family, computed or
made known to her nearly seventy years        magnanimous, for Saltiel was to provide all this for a mere $8,750,
after the colony broke up. It is impossible
to calculate the origin of this sum. If       the remaining $1,250 to be raised by the colonists to cover costs of
divided into $10,000 it yields 22.97, so
say twenty-three families; if divided into
$8,750, it yields 20.10, so say twenty        rail transportation and living expenses en route to Colorado. The
families. It is not clear how we might get
to twenty-three families, with Satt           entire cost was to be kept under $10,000 which meant an indebt-
writing of between twenty and twenty-
two hefamilies; see Appendix 1—A              edness for each family of less than $435.
note on Sources.

Regardless, the precision of the sum—
whether remembered or calculated—tells        Within a few months after hearing these proposals, Jacob’s father,
us how much attention the colonists paid
to indebtedness. Schwarz confirms that
the colonists regarded themselves as
                                              mother, brother and bride-to-be arrived in New York and letters
indebted to HEAS (Schwarz p16).
                                              were dispatched immediately to the others still in Russia describ-

                                Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

ing in great detail the generosity of this American Jew, Saltiel, and
his plan to aid them in realizing their dreams of tilling the soil in a
free country, to build their homes and equip their farms and help
them adjust to life in America. The group in Russia was enthusias-
tic and began to make preparations for leaving, but before they
could complete their arrangements, an event occurred which
changed their situation. On March 1, 1881, Czar Alexander II was
assassinated and his son and successor, Alexander III, immedi-
ately appointed Nicolas Pavlovich Ignatieff, a militant anti-Semite,
as Minister of the Interior. At once a series of pogroms began
which caused thousands of Jews to leave Russia forever in a mass
exodus unparalleled in modern history. The promulgation of the
May Laws of 1881 was the capstone in the long history of repres-
sive acts directed against the Jews of the Czar’s Empire.

Consequently the tempo of Jewish immigration to the United
States was tremendously changed that spring of 1881. By June the
waves of destitute refugees swamped the inadequate facilities of
the Port of New York Receiving Station at Castle Garden. Up to
that time, assistance to those Jews who needed it had been ren-              Cattle, horses, wagons and feed

dered by private charitable organizations such as B’nai B’rith or            On the previous page, Satt scrupulously
                                                                             lists the supplies which Saltiel promised
                                                                             to provide. The full list (that is, farm
the various religious congregations in New York, Philadelphia,               implements and seed as well as the items
                                                                             set out in the title to this sidebar) suggest
Boston and Baltimore.                                                        that the plan was for a combination of
                                                                             stock-raising and farming. When,
                                                                             however, we come to the complaints of
                                                                             the colonists (see page 19 and the
But the scope of the 1881 migration was entirely too much for                sidebar, Deficiencies) there is no
                                                                             mention of the cattle, horses, wagons and
these private groups and the sudden realization of their inade-              feed, the wherewithal of stock-raising
                                                                             and the best bet for the high plateaus. It
                                                                             looks as though the pioneers from the
quacy caused them to band together to try to provide emergency               Ukraine preferred, quite literally, to
                                                                             plough a more familiar furrow and
relief. The protest meetings that were held all over Europe because          confine themselves to farming. This
                                                                             apparent change of heart must bear upon
of the pogroms raised considerable funds, most of which were sent            the eventual failure of the colony.

to the United States, which country received the bulk of the refu-
gees. The Alliance Israelite Universelle mushroomed into a vast re-
lief agency and was responsible for the establishment of depots,
“escape hatches” and embarkation stations throughout Europe.

                                              The Cotopaxi Colony

                                        To American Jews the situation that spring was particularly worri-
                                        some as their heretofore pleasant and undisturbed insulation had
                                        not prepared them for such shock--or problem. Because the Jews
                                        came in such large numbers, so rapidly, to America, the govern-
The current nomenclature is HIAS (for
Immigrant), , but in the 1880s it was   ment’s immigration authorities were totally unprepared and avail-
HEAS (for Emigrant).
                                        able facilities completely inadequate. Prompt action was impera-
                                        tive lest this problem become large enough to trouble the tranquil
                                        Christian-Jewish atmosphere in the United States. Therefore a re-
                                        lief committee composed of prominent American Jews was hastily
                                        organized under the chairmanship of a New York judge, Meyer
                                        Isaacs, in September of 1881. Within a month this was replaced by
                                        a union of all Jewish charitable groups along the Eastern sea-
                                        board, religious and secular alike, into what was called the Hebrew
                                        Emigrant Aid Society (HEAS). By the end of that year, $300,000
                                        in temporary relief funds had been raised and headquarters of the
                                        society set up in Michael Heilprin’s offices in New York city. Heil-
                                        prin was unanimously elected president and directed the affairs of
                                        the society until its dissolution in the fall of 1883. He had to dis-
                                        card for a while his theories of careful relocation of Jews on farms,
                                        as clearly these could not be applied quickly enough to solve the
                                        pressing and immediate problems of emergency relief. Whenever
                                        possible he urged the young men to leave the crowded urban cen-
                                        ters and take up land in the West under the Homestead Act.

                                        Despite Heilprin’s preoccupation with Receiving Station duties
                                        and housing, he found time to help establish and finance two
                                        “colonies” with HEAS funds earmarked for this type of
                                        “experiment”. The first of these was the Cotopaxi Colony in Colo-
                                        rado, the settlers, location and investment having been decided
                                        upon in 1881 as a result of the coincidence of Saltiel’s offer and
                                        Jacob Milstein’s application. The second one was at Vineland, New

                                        Before the pogroms of 1881 had caused such precipitous migra-
                                        tions and had so drastically altered the situation of the Milstein

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

group still in Brest Litovsk, Michael Heilprin had already decided
to go ahead with this plans for an experimental colony located              The report of 23 October 1882

near Cotopaxi. His first act, once he had accepted the offer of             Satt is simply mistaken. Schwarz’
                                                                            proposed trip to investigate the site of the
                                                                            colony never took place. See Appendix
Saltiel, was to assign a young lawyer connected with the society,           1—A note on sources for a review of
                                                                            the documents which establish this.
Julius Schwarz, to go to Colorado, make a thorough investigation
                                                                            On the other hand, once Schwarz arrived,
                                                                            he regarded himself as the manager of
of the locality, markets, soil, climate, etc., and return a report to       the colony and described himself as such
                                                                            on pages 1 and 2 of his October 1882
the New York office. Schwarz left New York in January of 1881, but          report to HEAS. His tone is euphoric in
                                                                            the extreme and gives a good sense of the
HEAS never received any report from him or word concerning                  climate of the times. Sample extracts:
                                                                              “...those who advocated the idea that
him.                                                                          a Jew cannot make a farmer have
                                                                              been refuted.”
                                                                              “Sixty Russian refugees left New York
Within a few months of Schwarz’s departure, however Heilprin                  as paupers five months ago. Today
                                                                              they are self supporting citizens.”
was submerged in the more pressing problems of the Russian po-                “..spend thousands of dollars for
                                                                              supplying everyday wants, and you
grom victims, and could not spend any more money investigating                will breed and raise paupers and
                                                                              beggars; colonize and you will make
this far-off colony site. The $10,000 required for its establishment          self-supporting citizens.”

had already been approved and set aside by the society, the rest of           “Our colony in the Rocky mountains
                                                                              will always stand forth as a noble
                                                                              monument of Jewish charity, as the
the ‘colony group’ had arrived from Europe that winter and began              striking proof of the working
                                                                              capacities, of the perseverance, of the
to constitute a ‘dependent immigrant classification’, having been             earnestness of our Russian
forced to flee Russia without waiting to sell property, etc. The ex-
                                                                            Schwarz closes with a quote from Cicero:
penses of tenement living during the winter of 1881-82 had used               “There is nothing nobler, nothing
                                                                              sweeter, nothing more becoming to a
up what little they had been able to bring with them and the condi-           free man than agriculture.”

tions in New York, plus the disappointment of delay had eaten up            Obviously Schwarz got the outcome
                                                                            wrong, but he paints a picture of
                                                                            prevailing attitudes, including those of
much of their enthusiasm. Heilprin had little choice but to permit          Saltiel, which however ill-judged were the
                                                                            reverse of villainy. Even seventy years
the “colony” to go ahead without having received any report of              later in 1950, Satt was no stranger to
                                                                            agricultural euphoria, indeed her
Schwarz’s investigation.                                                    conclusion from pages 31 to 34 positively
                                                                            embraces the redemptive power of the
                                                                            soil. See Appendix 1—A note on
                                                                            sources, for an expansion on Schwarz’
Thus it was that in April of 1882 the twenty “family groups” began          character as a witness.

their long train journey via Kansas City, Pueblo and the Royal
                                                                            The winter in New York
Gorge, to Cotopaxi, without many of the things they should have
                                                                            This was something of a disaster for the
had. First, they were without any first-hand knowledge of just              pioneers, leading to the depletion of their
                                                                            remaining funds. The question arises:
what kind of country they were headed for--save for the descrip-            why didn't some of them take jobs? The
                                                                            sweatshops of Manhattan were readily to
tions of the eloquent Mr. Saltiel. Secondly, they were without their        hand. Perhaps as former proprietors and
                                                                            would-be farmers, they saw such labour
                                                                            as beneath them.
beloved leader, Saul Baer Milstein. His younger brother, Benja-
min, had taken over as Saul Baer was still angry over the matter of
his daughter Nettie’s unfortunate marriage with his first cousin.
That couple was also missing from the group which left New York

                                                  The Cotopaxi Colony

                                           for Colorado, having preceded it by several months. They were
                                           awaiting the arrival of the colony which they would join, in the
                                           meantime living in Blackhawk. Thirdly, the group was no longer
                                           well-off financially; the fee of $50.00 per head-of-family, the high

Depleted resources
                                           cost of living in New York the preceding winter, the cost of the
This confirms that the colonists arrived   journey, the loss of expected profit from the sale of their property
short of funds.
                                           and businesses in Russia, had greatly depleted its resources. De-
                                           spite these handicaps, the group was confident and optimistic as
                                           they set out for the “promised lands” in the rich and fertile Wet
                                           Mountain Valley, described so eloquently in the letter from their
                                           benefactor, Emanuel H. Saltiel.

                                                                  Part III, The Events

                                           The townspeople of Cotopaxi watched the tired and bewildered
                                           immigrants get off the train. It was the eighth day of May, 1882.
                                           They had gathered at the new Denver and Rio Grande depot, curi-
                                           ous to see at first hand these “Jew Colonists” about whose arrival
                                           they had heard so much from Saltiel and his partners during the
                                           preceding months. Some of them were openly scornful of the new-
                                           comers’ clothes, language and appearance and made no effort to
                                           conceal their hostility. Others felt sympathetic at their looks of ter-
                                           ror and awe, caused, no doubt, by the trip through the Royal Gorge
                                           and the desolate vastness west of the chasm. The terrain of this en-
                                           tire area is quite forbidding. The land is bare, very rocky, with
                                           practically no timber or vegetation. The unimpeded streams which
                                           flow into the Arkansas River have cut deep transverse gorges in
                                           the black rock formations.

                                           Saltiel sent a wagon to transport the Jews and their baggage from
                                           the railroad depot to this hotel across the public square. The
                                           twenty families were accommodated in rather crowded fashion in
                                           the hotel until they were ready to move to their farms, some of
                                           which were eight or ten miles south of the town itself. Several of
                                           the men met with Saltiel and two of his many partners, A. S. Hart

                              Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

and Julius Schwarz, to discuss plans for their colony, but little
                                                                           Schwarz 2: “Saltiel’s partner”
could be decided until the colonists could see the location. Hart          It is not clear that Schwarz was Saltiel’s
                                                                           partner. Satt’s sources for this is are
and Schwarz drove the men of the group up Oak Grove Creek to               unreliable on much else. See Appendix
                                                                           1: A note on sources for an expansion
inspect their future homes.                                                on this

Saltiel had written to the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society in October,
1881 that the twenty houses were finished and that five large barns
would be completed shortly. He listed prices for farm implements
and horses, implying that if these prices met with the approval of
the Society, the articles would be purchased upon Saltiel’s receipt
of their reply. Now, more than seven months later, the newcomers
found only twelve small, poorly-constructed cabins approximately
eight feet square, six feet high, with flat roofs and no chimneys.
They had no doors or windows, nor even the jambs or frames into
which such might be easily fitted. There was no furniture inside,
and only four of the twelve structures possessed stoves for heating
or cooking.

                                                                           Quarter sections
Hart pointed out the twenty divisions of land in the valley. There
                                                                           These 160 acre plots were the standard
was supposed to have been 160 acres in each parcel. Twelve of              land grant in Fremont County at that
                                                                           time, but would have been scanty in the
these were located on either side of Oak Grove Creek, the remain-          east and turned out to be inadequate in
                                                                           the Cotopaxi plateau, better suited for
                                                                           stock-raising than farming. Schwarz’
ing eight farms were marked out beyond a high ridge 8,000 feet             report states that he allocated acreage to
                                                                           each family on the spot. See Appendix
above sea-level. These last were in the Wet Mountain Valley itself,        1—A note on sources.

but despite the name, there was no water on the lands. No fences
or other boundaries separated the colonists’ lands, and in the Wet
Mountain Valley sections, the sparse grass which had just begun to
grow was being grazed by neighboring ranchers’ cattle.                     Deficiencies
                                                                           Some of the colonists’ complaints seem
                                                                           ill-judged. Fences to protect against
On the twelve parcels in Oak Grove Valley there was no sign of any         strays were called for barbed wire.
                                                                           Schwarz’ report states that this was not
other improvement save the tiny cabins. No wells had been dug,             initially to hand (p11), but his accounting
                                                                           indicates that it was subsequently
                                                                           obtained (p15). See Appendix 1—A
no fences built and no road cleared. Hart drove the wagon up the           note on sources). To be fair, wire
                                                                           would have offered meagre protection
stream bed itself, not too steep under normal circumstances, but           against bears, presumably grizzlies,
                                                                           preparing for hibernation (see page 24
obviously impassable during spring flood stages or the sudden              below). By contrast, as Satt acknowledges
                                                                           a few sentences later, clearing a road
mountain cloudbursts which often transformed a dry arroyo into a           through the rubble of the Cotopaxi
                                                                           plateau would have taken gangs of labour
                                                                           not to hand at that point.
roaring cataract for several hours. The materials for the twelve

                                                    The Cotopaxi Colony

                                             structures had been hauled up to the site before winter snows had
                                             melted above. McCoy recalls that the stream bed, even in fall, was
Self-defence—1: neighbours’ cattle           never too good a ‘road’ since large boulders and other debris had
Here we come to the first instance of
what turns out to be a consistent theme:
                                             washed down therein, making rough going even for a single horse
the colonists’ difficulties in asserting
themselves and defending their rights.       or mule. Some years later a wagon road was built through this val-
Satt reports on page 2 that Fremont
County had recently seen four years of       ley, connecting Wet Mountain Valley with Cotopaxi, but it re-
“violent physical struggles” during the
Royal Gorge War of 1874-78. By contrast      quired considerable labor to clear the alluvial deposits.
in this instance, the pioneers found
themselves unable to see off stock, as
later wild animals (p24 and sidebar) and
destitute Indians (p25 and sidebar).         The terrain of the valley precluded the possibility of preparing ex-
Roberts (Op cit, p127) also reports that
earlier settlers in Fremont County had       tensive fields for crops. Less than half a mile in width, there is a
appropriated irrigation rights. Setting
aside the rough and tumble of frontier       definite shoulder mid-way up the canyon walls, indicating the level
life, Western water rights often caught
out those unfamiliar with the legal code
inherited from the Spanish.
                                             of the younger steam in past geologic ages. The soil on the lower
                                             half is easily eroded due to the angle of tip. Some tough grass
Saltiel’s conduct
The accounts of the descendants of the       grows, as well as sage brush and other native plants, but almost no
pioneers dwell on Saltiel’s lack of
sympathy, but a close reading challenges     trees, except for scrub pines. The valley is watered solely by the
this. We see this when we come to
Saltiel’s response to settlers’ subsequent   tiny seasonal creek and it would have required extensive irrigation
approaches. The record shows that these
rapidly assumed the character of a claim     works to deflect any of this water out onto the tilted shoulders of
for damages, with Satt introducing much
evidently well-remembered detail about
land titles, numbers and qualities of        land designated as “farms” for the Jewish immigrants. Ed Grimes,
buildings and the like. This is so clearly
the echo of legal disputation that we are    one of the colonists, stated to a reporter for the Denver Jewish
bound to ask what the settlers were
thinking of. The sidebars, HEAS’             News in April, 1925, “There (Cotopaxi) was the poorest place in
settlement with the colonists and
Smoke and Mirrors on page 28,                the world for farming. Poor land, lots of big rocks, no water, and
answer this question. See also
Appendix 3—Allegations for an
expansion on this discussion.
                                             the few crops we were able to raise, by a miracle, were mostly
                                             eaten by cattle belonging to neighboring settlers.”
Kitchen gossip
Most of the paragraphs from here to the
bottom of page 28, are set out in red.
They form the heart of the allegations       When the men returned to Cotopaxi following their tour of inspec-
against Emanuel Saltiel, but turn out to
be flimsily sourced by Satt. The analysis    tion, they sought out Saltiel for an explanation of the many defi-
in Appendix 1—A note on sources
shows that these passages rely on the        ciencies. That gentleman was remembered as being profuse in his
uncorroborated recall of events 67 years
earlier by three sources. At the time of
the events they purport to describe, the
                                             apologies and used the labor shortage as the primary excuse for
sources were either unborn or children
unable to speak English.                     non-fulfilment. He explained that items such as window frames,
We may take at face value Hannah             proper furniture, much of the tools and equipment, even lumber,
Shames Quiat’s transparently first-hand
account of the “canned peaches…” on
p23. On the other hand, we are entitled to
                                             were impossible to procure in the vicinity and that he had sent to
challenge accounts of events which are
unlikely to have been observed by the        Denver for them. They had been delayed. He would be leaving for
sources as children, which if observed
would not have been understood, and          Denver soon and would try to expedite delivery.
where any first-hand memories would
have been embellished by gossip at the
kitchen table over the following 67 years.
This makes the core of Satt’s thesis         The immigrants had brought only the most personal of household
nothing but hearsay. Examples follow in
the sidebars.

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

equipment yet it was decided among them within the first week af-
ter their arrival that they must move into the available cabins and
improve them as best they could themselves, for it was most im-
perative to begin the preparation of the soil for planting. By the
                                                                            On foot
middle of May the Jews were able to borrow Hart’s wagon and                 If the colonists had to carry their
                                                                            belongings on their back, the sidebar on
moved their baggage and families up to the colony, making the trip          page 22, No animals to feed, tells us
                                                                            that they were the authors of their own
on foot themselves, carrying some of their belongings on their              misfortune: they had allowed their oxen
                                                                            to escape overnight. Thus their need to
backs.                                                                      manhandle “the heavy wagons, one at a
                                                                            time to Cotopaxi, some seven miles by
                                                                            the old wagon road.” (Gulliford, op cit
                                                                            para 5) and hinted at in Schwarz’
A few days later, Saltiel left Cotopaxi for an extended business trip,      reference to “haulage” (p16).

leaving the problems of the colonists to be settled by his partners,
Hart and Schwarz. They gave what little help and advice they
could, and permitted the Jews to borrow the necessary plows and             Credit from the store
                                                                            The colonists were fortunate. The loan of
horses, seed and other equipment. Hart, as the proprietor of the            horses and ploughs relieved them of the
                                                                            worst consequences of the loss of their
General Store, extended credit to the colonists for food staples and        oxen described above. As noted in the
                                                                            sidebar opposite, Saltiel’s conduct,
other necessities. Four additional stoves were obtained and carted          store credit also turned out to be the
                                                                            colonists’ lifeline for at least the first five
                                                                            months, estimated at between $1,545 and
up the valley. The men themselves built mud chimneys for the four           $8,000, until it was cut off in the
                                                                            “Autumn”, taken to be 1st October. See
remaining stoveless cabins.                                                 the sidebar, The cost of keep on page
                                                                            26 and Appendix 1—A note on
                                                                            sources for discussion and calculations.

There was much discontent and anxiety among the members of
the colony, yet they had determined to remain at Cotopaxi. They             Schwarz 3:
                                                                            “Avenue of communication”
had no alternative, really, since the expenses of the previous win-         Satt’s sources are mistaken to suggest
                                                                            that Saltiel’s ignorance of Hebrew
ter in New York City and the trip west had consumed what little             stopped him communicating with the
                                                                            colonists. As it happens, we know that
cash they had had, and there seemed to be no one to whom they               Saltiel was observant earlier in life. A
                                                                            letter from his youth, now in the Library
could turn for advice or assistance in their efforts to secure the          of Congress asks relatives in England for
                                                                            phylacteries, tefillim, so we may take it
                                                                            that he would have been conventionally
promised items from Saltiel. The language barrier, also, proved             familiar with liturgical Hebrew. This
                                                                            would have availed him little with the
quite a handicap in their attempts to correct what they believed to         settlers, as the everyday life of the
                                                                            Ashkenazi Jews of central and eastern
be an error on the part of Mr. Saltiel, since even that gentleman           Europe was conducted in Yiddish.
                                                                            Saltiel was a Sephardic Jew, whose family
was quite limited in his knowledge of Hebrew and the immigrants             arrived in England at the beginning of the
                                                                            17oos, so Yiddish would have been
were then barely intelligible in English. When Saltiel left Cotopaxi,       unknown to him.

their only avenue of communication was the young partner, Julius            By contrast Schwarz, a Hungarian Jew,
                                                                            would have known Yiddish. But that is
                                                                            not the principal reason that Satt’s
Schwarz. Later, the colonists met their German neighbors in Wet             spurges report Schwarz as the colonists’
                                                                            “avenue of communication.” He travelled
Mountain Valley. These people proved quite helpful as most of the           to Cotopaxi with the colonists to become
                                                                            their “clerk”, if not “general manager”.
immigrants spoke German fluently and even those who spoke only              Clearly Satt’s sources were wholly
                                                                            unaware of this.
Yiddish were able to communicate easily with the German farm-

                                                    The Cotopaxi Colony

                                              ers. The latter were sympathetic concerning the plight of the Jew-
                                              ish colonists and assisted them wherever possible. The women of
                                              the colony went regularly to visit them, obtaining milk and eggs
                                              for the children, and some meat and vegetables. The men sought
Spring sowing
Satt writes here of land being cleared for
                                              agricultural advice from the Germans and this was gladly given,
crops by 1 June. Schwarz writes of
planting in “the latter part of May” (p10).   even though it was already too late to remedy the delay and mis-
Gulliford (op cit para 6) says that no
crops were planted till August or             takes made that first spring sowing. It had been the first of June
September. Perhaps there were two
plantings.                                    before the Jews had gathered together the necessary supplies and
                                              implements and had cleared the few acres for crops. They planted
                                              corn and potatoes and their methods proved a source of much
                                              amusement for the people of Cotopaxi. The “greenhorns”, as they
No animals to feed                            were called, had much to learn about high altitude farming in arid
Satt’s sources may be right about the
colonists’ lack of stock by the time they     country, where even with the most favorable weather, the growing
got to the plateau, but this followed an
incident “[o]n the way to Cotopaxi,           season is less than four months for most crops. They did not at-
[when] the colony camped at what is now
the Peter Young Ranch. That night they        tempt any hay or grain crops the first year, since clear, level land
turned their oxen loose to graze and the
oxen wandered off with a herd of wild         was at a premium and they had no animals to feed.
cattle. The immigrants having no horses
with which to catch the oxen, attempted
to trail them on foot. They followed them
as far as the river but could not catch
them.” (Gulliford, op cit, para 5). This
                                              Despite the help of their German neighbors and the credit ex-
must have represented a financial loss
and was an early instance of the colonists’   tended to them for food by Mr. Hart at Cotopaxi’s General Store,
carelessness with their own property—
evidently the oxen were neither tethered      two new-born babies died soon after coming and the young son of
nor hobbled—and the general clumsiness
with stock; see the sidebar on page 20,       David Korpitsky died of blood poisoning incurred by stepping on a
Self-defence—1: neighbours’ cattle.
                                              rusty nail with bare feet. The babies were all buried in the village
                                              cemetery of Cotopaxi, in unmarked graves separated from the rest
                                              by a small wooden fence.

                                              In mid-June Jacob and Nettie Milstein left Blackhawk where they
                                              had lived for six months and joined the colony, thus becoming the
                                              twenty-first “unit”. Although some of the family units had doubled
                                              up to share the shelter of the twelve cabins, two families set up
                                              canvas tents while the men prepared and constructed more
                                              houses. One family made their own house from cut sod, while Mr.
                                              and Mrs. Herschel Toplitsky, assigned to one of the sections across
                                              the ridge in Wet Mountain Valley, found an abandoned Indian
                                              dugout cave which they used as a house for the first year. The
                                              young Milstein couple were most welcome in the colony, despite

                              Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

their unorthodox marriage, for they both spoke English fluently
and were able to teach the others. Benjamin Zalman Milstein, Max
Tobias, and David Korpitsky were the leaders of the colony.

The babies’ deaths and other misfortunes and disappointments of
the colony must have caused them to turn to religion for solace.
They had not been considered a particularly religious group, at
least by European standards, but soon after the burial ceremonies,
the group felt they must establish some sort of a “spiritual organi-
zation”. With the first letter they sent back to New York went a re-
quest for a “Torah”. HEAS sent one immediately and by the 23rd
of June, 1882, the Jews were able to dedicate their new synagogue,
which they had converted from an abandoned cabin behind the
General Store, the only building available. David Korpitsky served
as rabbi and performed two weddings that first summer. The first
united Max Shuteran and Hannah Milstein and the other was the
religious ceremony which finally, even in the eyes of the most or-
thodox, sanctioned the civil union of Jacob Milstein and his cousin
Nettie. The reminiscences of the colonists recall these events as
rare occasions for joy and celebration. Hannah Shames Quiat can
still remember the precious canned peaches, the fresh-caught               Schwarz 4: “Saltiel’s lawyer”

trout and sugar cakes which were served at the wedding reception.          As previously discussed, the sources for
                                                                           this characterisation are unsafe. Schwarz’
                                                                           investigative trip to Colorado never took
                                                                           place; he travelled from New York to
                                                                           Cotopaxi in May 1882 with the first group
Saltiel himself was absent from Cotopaxi most of the summer and            of pioneers. See Appendix 1: A note on
                                                                           sources for an expansion on this.
fall but his young partner, Julius Schwarz, a Hungarian Jew,
                                                                           There is, however, a question as to how
joined with the Russian immigrants in their religious observances          Schwarz supported himself for five
                                                                           months in Colorado. His expenses do not
and was chosen Secretary of the Congregation. Schwarz had been             appear in the accounts of the colony he
                                                                           rendered to HEAS. Perhaps his duties as
                                                                           the colony’s “clerk” or “general manager”
educated in New York and served as Saltiel’s lawyer. It is obvious         were regarded as honorary and he
                                                                           obtained a livelihood by acting for Saltiel.
from letters and remarks of the colonists that they did not connect        This hardly amounts to corruption—such
                                                                           arrangements were a commonplace at the
this young man with the lawyer Michael Heilprin had commis-                time.

sioned to investigate the original offer made by Emanuel Saltiel in        The 1883 negotiations between HEAS
                                                                           and Saltiel might have given rise to an
                                                                           eventual conflict of interest As it
September, 1880. None of the group had been in New York, except            happens, however, Schwarz disappears
                                                                           from the record of the colony after
Jacob Milstein, when Heilprin had sent Schwarz to Colorado for a           Autumn 1882; there is no evidence that
                                                                           he played a part in the 1883 negotiations.
report on the proposed colony location.

                                                     The Cotopaxi Colony

                                              The festivities that summer, Schwarz’s help in the absence of
                                              Saltiel, and the agreeable summer climate were perhaps the last
The crisis
Satt’s sources are unable to tell us why      pleasant memories the Jews had of Cotopaxi, for with the arrival
credit was stopped. The most likely
explanation would be a response from          of autumn their position became most uncomfortable. Saltiel re-
HEAS to Schwarz’ report, which he
presented to the Society in New York on       turned and refused to fulfil any of the neglected obligations and
23 October 1882 (Schwarz pp1 and 16)
The most cursory questioning would
inform HEAS that the settlers had run up      even denied them further credit at the General Store, in which he
debt; the Society would not wish to
assume this liability.                        had a half-interest. He expressed no regret or surprise at their in-
The timing is also obscure. On the theory     ability to sow adequate crops on the stony hillsides, nor did he
above, it would have come in November,
but the calculations in Appendix 1 take
a conservative view of the beginning of       deem his failure to provide the necessary farm equipment as con-
October, it shows that the colonists had
obtained credit of between $1,545 and         tributing to their difficulties. In addition, this part of Colorado suf-
$8,000 for keep alone, so it was no more
than a kindness that they be protected        fered an exceptionally early frost the autumn of 1882 and when
from building up further debt.
Schwarz writes on p13 of his report that      the Jews attempted to harvest their potatoes, they found most of
he had already arranged work for the
settlers on the railroad and that they had    them frozen.
also worked in local mines, presumably
Saltiel’s. Moving from one to another
employer was no more than the settlers’
right, but work in Saltiel’s mine antedates   The colonists were faced with the problem of providing, without
the stop of store credit; seeing it as the
culmination of a plot seems to be either      money, fuel for heating their drafty shacks, and clothing for the
Satt’s own idea, unless she got this from
her unreliable sources.
                                              bitter cold mountain winters. They had few possessions they could
See the side bars, Working capital
(p13), , Wages and scrip, opposite,           sell for food, medicine and shoes. The lack of fuel was dramatized
and The cost of keep (p26, as well as
Appendix 1—A note on sources for              by the menace of large bears which prowled about their cabins,
an expansion on this topic and
                                              looking for food before going into hibernation. The immigrants
                                              were terrified and were forced to use what little wood they had
Self defence—2: bears
                                              been able to gather during the summer to build big bonfires each
The colonists’ failure to protect
themselves from animals is another            night to frighten the bears away. As none of the cabins had had
example of their lack of grip on the
practicalities of their predicament.          doors when they moved in, the men were able to make only the
Shuttering, lean-tos or storage bins
elevated off the ground might have been
a better use for lumber than bonfires.        rudest sort of covering with what few tools they possessed, and
                                              none of these doors had locks or bolts. A hungry bear could easily
European guns
Of all the stories coming down from           push through the flimsy barrier which might bar his way into a
Satt’s sources, this is the most bizarre.
Russian Jews would not have been              cabin. Furthermore, the men were without protection in the way of
permitted to own arms in the old
country, where they would have been           firearms. Only a few owned revolvers and none could afford am-
hard-pressed to find a revolver. Nor
would the officials at Castle Garden, the
port of entry into the U.S., have
                                              munition, since they were of European make and required a bullet
permitted armed arrivals to clear
immigration. (They would have locked          not available in the area.
them up or turned them back!) This fable
can only be an echo of an underlying
truth: the colonists were out of their
depth, in particular as to their own self-    Again and again, delegations of men would tramp eight miles to
defence. This would have been
particularly apparent to those colonists      town through the deep snow to appeal to Mr. Saltiel. He had re-
who subsequently campaigned as
Colorado Volunteers or became peace
officers (p30) and perhaps they came up
                                              ceived altogether, by October of 1882, close to $10,000 which the
with this face-saving story.

                              Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society sent from New York. Part of this
was payment for a bill of $5,600 he had tendered the Society the           Satt sources this to a letter from Saltiel
                                                                           which I have not seen. For that matter,
preceding year. This sum was to recover the cost of building               neither had the colonists. In any event,
                                                                           these figures are at odds with Schwarz’
twenty fine homes at $280.00 each. Since the colonists found only          report which reports $3,360 (not $5,600
                                                                           as stated by Satt) as attributable to
twelve cabins which could not possibly have cost Saltiel even              housing and a total expenditure of just
                                                                           under $10,050 (Schwarz p15). See
$150.00 apiece, they felt that on this one item alone they should          Appendix 1—A note on sources

                                                                           It is not clear why we should accept the
receive some rebate. Two saw-mills were in operation in the im-            estimation of Satt’s sources as to the cost
                                                                           of these cabins. See Appendix 3—
mediate vicinity at this time and first-class lumber sold for $22.50       Allegations. Such sums evidently
                                                                           exercised them, but the rebate they
per thousand. Now the Jews realized they had no means of forcing           sought (from a total of $8,750, not
                                                                           $10,000) could not have been
Saltiel to fulfil any of his neglected promises, as they themselves        attributable to them but to HEAS, with
                                                                           whom Saltiel settled after the colony was
                                                                           disbanded. See the sidebar, Smoke and
possessed no written agreement, no contract, no bill of sale and           mirrors on page 28, for a fuller
                                                                           discussion of this point. This point
not even a title, deed or lease to the land they were then occupy-         applies all the more as the sums provided
                                                                           by HEAS were intended as loans
ing. That winter they petitioned HEAS for aid and counsel in how           (Schwarz p16) .

to regain their lost money, believing that organization had docu-
ments on file which could intimidate Saltiel.                              Lost money
                                                                           It is not clear what moneys Satt’s sources
                                                                           believed the pioneers had lost, as Satt
                                                                           reports that they had only ever expended
The weather was unusually severe that year, with blizzards which           filing fees from their own resources. At
                                                                           $50 for each of 22 heads of families (page
isolated their farms for weeks at a time, below-freezing tempera-          29), this would be $1,100, around one
                                                                           fifth of the central estimate of the credit
tures which froze their hands and feet, unprotected by boots or            taken from Saltiel by the colonists in
                                                                           The cost of keep on page 26 and
                                                                           Appendix 1. Satt’s references to “force”
gloves, and caused much suffering. To add to their misery, small           and “intimidate” speak ill for the attitude
                                                                           of her sources.
bands of Ute Indians appeared from time to time, begging food
and the frightened immigrants gave them what little food they
                                                                           Self defence–3: begging tribesmen
had.                                                                       This story is of a piece with the
                                                                           immigrants’ lack of physical presence in
                                                                           the face of stock and wild animals. The
                                                                           record shows that they were keener on
The only recourse open to the desperate Jews was to go to work as          petitioning HEAS or campaigning to
                                                                           intimidate Saltiel, than defending their
laborers in Saltiel mines. His foremen were glad to hire even the          crops, supplies or homes.

inexperienced Jews as the supply of workers had dwindled even
further during the winter months. They promised the Jews $1.50             Wages and scrip
                                                                           The $1.50 received by the settlers was the
for the day shift and $2.50 for the night shift, the Cotopaxi and          going rate for the unskilled labourers
                                                                           they were. Scrip was not unreasonable,
Enterprise Mines being worked constantly and producing well.               given that the settlers owed Saltiel nearly
                                                                           $6,000 and cash was short in the West.
Despite this the colonists recall they received not a penny in cash        See Appendix 3—Allegations, for a
                                                                           full discussion of this.
for all the work done in the mines. Instead, they received vouchers
for credit at the General Store owned by Saltiel and Hart. This sys-
tem, however unfair, did enable them to buy a few sacks of flour
and other necessities.

                                                     The Cotopaxi Colony
The sequence of events
                                              Mining in deep underground shafts and tunnels is never pleasant
In the adjacent passages, Satt, provides
no dates, but presents the following          work but in wintertime it is particularly disagreeable and hazard-
1. Store credit stopped.                      ous. Since the labor shortage extended to other fields as well, the
2. Early frost; potato crop fails.
3. Settlers resort to working in Saltiel’s    Jews found they could have employment with the railroad instead
    mine for scrip.
4. Settlers then work for the Denver and      of with Saltiel. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was then
    Rio Grande Railroad, “instead of with
    Saltiel”.                                 building its line west of Salida to connect the booming mining
By contrast the evidence of Schwarz’
report makes for the following sequence.
                                              camps along the Continental Divide and Western Slope. the rail-
1. Settlers work in a mine, presumably        road was only too happy to employ the Jews as track laborers and
   Saltiel’s, and on the railroad.
2. Report dated 23 October 1882.              even permitted them to take Saturday as their day off, instead of
3. Potato crop fails.
In addition, from its positive content and    Sunday. Nearly every man in the colony worked that winter for the
tone, Schwarz’ report must antedate the
crisis following the stop in credit.          Denver and Rio Grande, and received cash wages of as much as
See Appendix 1—A note on sources,
f0r a full treatment of this topic.           $3.00 per day, with which they managed to support the entire
The cost of keep
                                              group of sixty-three persons.
The colonists’ earnings from the Denver
and Rio Grande enable us to make
another estimate of the cost of keeping
the colonists. We understand from Satt        The colony had another reason to be grateful to the Denver and
(p29) that 23 of the colonists were men
fit for work; Schwarz confirms this (p5). I
assume that 21 of these (Satt says “nearly
                                              Rio Grande Railroad that winter. The women had been accus-
every man”) worked for the railroad and
they earned an average rate of $2.50 per      tomed to scour and comb the tracks in the area for bits of coal or
day. Satt writes “as much as $3.00”;
Schwarz writes $2.00(p13). After              wood dropped by passing trains. Sympathetic engineers and fire-
adjusting for the Sabbath, the railway
workers were contributing $45 per day to      men, noticing them, learned of their plight and then would regu-
the colony. If we take off ten percent for
travel to and from the railroad we get just
over $40 per day to support the colony.
                                              larly toss down as much coal and wood as they could, thus ena-
We may use this sum to estimate the           bling the women to obtain enough fuel to keep them alive that
credit taken by the colonists from arrival
on 8th May 1882 to the “Autumn”—let us
say 1st October 1882, some 146 days. If we
adjust for the smaller number of
colonists between 8 May and mid June,
we obtain a figure of just under $5,900.
These figures are consistent with those       Word of the colony’s predicament reached Denver and they were
based on Ed Grimes’ earnings and in the
middle of the range between $1,545 and        visited by several interested groups. First, the Jewish community
$8,000 set out in Appendix 1.
                                              of Denver sent as much help as they could, including warm winter
Three prominent men from Denver
                                              clothing, food, medicine and other necessities. Three prominent
The colonists bought kosher meat from
Denver after the beginning of August, so      men from Denver came down to investigate at first hand. On their
were in continuous contact thereafter
(Schwarz p13). The three men included
an attorney, George H Kohn (Roberts op
                                              return they framed still another appeal to the Hebrew Emigrant
cit p129). From this point the pioneers
had access to legal counsel, which in the     Aid Society, explaining Saltiel’s actions and describing his reputa-
nature of things would have extended
itself to negotiating and campaigning         tion. Then, a number of reporters from the Denver newspapers ap-
tactics. Thus, the immediately
subsequent arrival of the press and the       peared and interviewed the immigrants and the townspeople.
colonists’ “smoke and mirrors” campaign
against Saltiel (p28 and sidebar). These
were the raw material for the exchanges
                                              They had heard of this unusual agricultural experiment in Denver
leading to the final settlement between
the pioneers and HEAS and Saltiel (p28        and had come down to check certain reports of mismanagement
and sidebar). It is no mean testament to
the skills of Mr Kohn that Satt or her        and illegalities.
sources took this sequence at face value.

                              Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

The Denver Republican played up the story, emphasizing Saltiel’s
                                                                           “Unsavory personal reputation”
responsibility and the HEAS’s gullibility in investing such a large        This echoes Roberts (op cit p129), who
                                                                           goes on at this point to repeat allegations
sum in so novel an experiment, without proper investigation be-            that Saltiel had “failed to provide for his
                                                                           family”. This should be seen in light of
fore-hand. They exposed Saltiel’s entire plan as a “vile atrocity”         the 1881 collapse of Saltiel’s marriage;
                                                                           see the sidebar, Biography of
and described the colonists’ sufferings in minute detail. This news-       Emanuel Saltiel on page 5. This gave
                                                                           rise to the customary exchange of
paper took the opportunity of divulging at the same time, other of         allegations—hers of his failure to provide
                                                                           support; his of her notorious
                                                                           infidelities—and may also have
Saltiel’s deals and schemes, as well as his unsavory personal repu-        contributed to his absence from

The Rocky Mountain News tended to play down the whole story,
                                                                           HEAS ‘report on the colonists
reminding its readers that all pioneers must endure some hard-             The view of the Rocky Mountain News is
                                                                           echoed by the report of March 2, 1883 from
ship and compared conditions in other outlying districts with              H S Henry of HEAS:.
                                                                             “… a committee sent by German, Irish
those at Cotopaxi, making the lot of the Jews there seem ideal,              or Norwegian Emigrant Society would
                                                                             probably have encouraged the colonists
even better than most.                                                       by pointing out that their present
                                                                             discomforts were temporary, that with
                                                                             the return of spring and another
                                                                             harvest, things would improve; that
The colony did manage to survive the first winter, but they faced            perseverance after all the expenditure
                                                                             of money would certainly result in
the coming spring with determination not to make the same mis-               ultimate success.... This committee
                                                                             would recommend that to start life in a
                                                                             new country is not child’s play--that
takes nor rely on Saltiel for any further assistance. They observed          there are frequent disappointments and
                                                                             some misery…”
their first Passover at Cotopaxi that April of 1883, and immedi-
                                                                           Cited in Hard Times: The Jewish colony at
ately after the rites were concluded, again borrowed seed and              Cotopaxi, Article by Nancy Oswald,
                                                                           Colorado Central Magazine, No. 132,
                                                                           February 2005, Page 26; and available at
equipment and sowed their second crop. But nature seemed to      
conspire against them, for scarcely were the seeds in the ground
when a late spring blizzard ruined a large part of them. These late
storms are common in Colorado but to the struggling and discour-
aged colonists, it seemed a special punishment directed at them

Again they wrote to the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society for advice.
Up to this time, the directors of that agency in New York could do
little but counsel patience and fortitude, but by the late summer of
1883, the pressure of immigration had subsided in New York, due
to the Czar’s temporary retirement of Ignatieff, and the new direc-
tor found time to write to the unhappy farmers in Colorado. Mi-
chael Heilprin had been forced to retire that same summer, due to
illness, and his successor was not as familiar with the whole story.

                                                          The Cotopaxi Colony

                                                 Also, the emergency funds had been exhausted and the great need
                                                 for the Society’s existence not as apparent, so there were plans for
                                                 its dissolution. Late that summer, the colonists received a second
                                                 letter from HEAS recommending that they use the money that
                                                 would be sent them to remove to another area; in Colorado, per-
HEAS’ settlement with the colonists              haps, but out of the Cotopaxi region, since the legal complications
Evidently the colonists did not stand by
the sentiment reported by Schwarz that           involved in land claims were too difficult to handle at long range.
HEAS be informed of “the amount that
they may be indebted to the Society as           In October, 1883, more than a year after their first appeal and the
they desire to repay every cent spent on
them in yearly instalments” (Schwarz             report made by the Denver investigators, the colonists received
p16). Something caused the settlers to
alter their stance—possibly the crop
failure, or possibly HEAS unknown
                                                 $2,000. As their harvest in 1883 was no better than the first, sev-
response to Schwarz’ report. In any event
they moved to seek new funds                     eral families prepared to leave as soon as they received their share
aggressively and this grant of $2,000
became the main reason for their                 of the removal funds.
campaign against Saltiel; see the sidebar,
Smoke and mirrors, below. The
colonists only got something between
$87 and $100 per family group each               For the remaining families, help and encouragement during their
(depending on whether we take the
smallest or largest figure cited by Satt         second winter was again supplied by their friends from Denver.
that is between twenty and twenty-three
family groups). Once again reading
between the lines, this must be where            Those who stayed on that winter earned their living expenses by
Saltiel netted off the moneys he had
defrayed on infrastructure and the credit        working in neighboring mines and on the railroad. The colony
he had extended to the colonists against
the $8,750 he had received from HEAS.            celebrated its second Passover at Cotopaxi in 1884, shortly after
From the point of view of the colonists,
this was a mixed outcome for what                which a number of families left for new locations. Only six families
almost smacks of a shakedown. They got
little by way of a grubstake, but were
relieved of any obligations they might           decided to remain and plant a third crop, but when another late
have incurred after obtaining the benefit
of funding from HEAS and Saltiel—on              blizzard destroyed it, too, they at last recognized the futility of per-
balance well worth their campaign.
                                                 severing in this spot and made plans to abandon the site.

                                                 Each head-of-family had paid a fee of $50.00 into a common fund
                                                 back in New York for the filing of deeds. When they prepared to
Smoke and mirrors
It is not clear why at this point the last few     story only by suggesting that the colonists       The colonists went after Saltiel from the
colonists would have concerned themselves          believed they were obliged to redeem              time he cut off their credit until HEAS sent
with titles for land they were about to            their deeds in cash before leaving the land       them a cash settlement, kicking in after they
abandon. Perhaps they were trying to realise       This is far-fetched. See Appendix 1—              met Attorney Kohn and embracing such
the value in their land, but as shown by the       A note on sources and Appendix 3—                 familiar elements as a press campaign. This
text cited by sidebar, Free land on page 13,       Allegations for a fuller treatment of this        is best understood as a futile attempt to
land in the west was so plentiful as to be de      topic.                                            obtain more credit from Saltiel, a defence
facto free. See Appendix 3—Allegations                                                               against recovery of the credit already
for fuller treatment of this topic.                Satt’s introduction of the story of the trip to   obtained and a support for their claim for a
Alternatively they were trying to recover          the land office makes sense only as an echo       grubstake for settlement elsewhere. To the
their filing fees. But at $50 per family, this     of dissent from the settlement with HEAS by       extent that the pioneers expected to have to
would keep a family of two adults and two          a faction of the pioneers. It serves, however,    pay HEAS back (Schwarz p16), it would be
children for barely three weeks.                   as retrospective support for her                  understandable that they should be all the
                                                   interpretation of the colonists’ earlier          more anxious about their credit from Saltiel.
Satt inclusion of this story evidently also        “smoke and mirrors” campaign to discredit         Appendix 1—A note on source, shows
mystified A. Armstrong who created a               Saltiel; and for the “sweated labour” theory      that such advances would have represented
website to satisfy the requirements for the        she develops in this thesis as her                up to $8,000. But no smoke and mirrors
final project of the Nationalism and               explanation for their conduct. Her theory is,     were necessary: there is no evidence that
Zionism course taught by Professor David           however, challenged by the sequence of            Saltiel contemplated direct redress. Once
Shneer at the University of Denver.                events set out in Appendix 2—Timeline.            again, Appendix 3—Allegations has a
Armstrong was able to make sense of the                                                              fuller treatment of this topic.

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

depart the county, they checked with the county clerk in Cañon
City and could find there no record whatsoever of any such deed or
conveyance. They had simply been squatters or perhaps at best,
tenant farmers on corporation town-site land. They had wasted al-
most three years on Saltiel’s colony when they could have filed on
public domain nearby as homesteaders.

By June of 1884 the colony, as such, was formally dissolved and a
final report submitted to Heilprin’s successors in New York. The
Cotopaxi Colony had been a failure. But it had served to give its
members valuable lessons in pioneering, and had taken them out
of the crowded ghettos in the eastern cities and given them a
glance at what was available on other farm lands in the West.

Of the twenty-two families who lived through the bitter but edify-
ing experience at Cotopaxi, only two failed to remain in the West.
These were Samuel Shradsky, and Sholem Shradsky, his eldest
son, both widowers. The elder Shradsky was a very old man and
wanted to return to Europe to be buried alongside of his long-dead
wife. His son accompanied him and died there before he could re-
turn to the United States. The rest used their hard-won knowledge
to try farming on better lands in the West.

Saul Baer Milstein had come to Denver in 1883 with his wife
Miriam and the seven younger children. He went into the cattle
business with two partners. As soon as he was able, he bought
grazing lands near Denver and by the time his younger sons were
grown, had built a stock-yard and packing house. His brother Ben-
jamin Zalman Milstein bought a farm near Derby, Colorado. His
youngest brother, Isaac Leib Shames, took his wife to Salt Lake
City, where they lived for many years before moving back to Colo-
rado. Shames’ son Michael moved to Denver and joined his uncle
in the cattle business and also bought a farm near Westminster,
Colorado. Shames’ daughter Hannah married Philip Quiat and an-
other daughter, Rachel, married Henry Singer. His eldest daugh-

      The Cotopaxi Colony

ter, Yente, had been but a young bride when she and her husband,
Joseph Washer, came as colonists to Cotopaxi. They had no chil-
dren. Mr. Washer died soon after leaving Cotopaxi. His widow re-
married Moses Altman of Denver.

Saul Baer Milstein’s eldest daughter Nettie, whose marriage to her
first cousin Jacob had been so bitterly opposed by her father,
eventually won his forgiveness. She and her husband were the
most enthusiastic and successful of all the new farmers. Their first
homestead was some four miles northeast of the city of Longmont
in Boulder County. They later moved to a larger farm near Broom-
field, which latter productive acreage they sold in 1935, for
$18,000 to the Savery Savory Mushroom Company.

Jacob Milstein, Saul Baer’s eldest son, later moved to Seattle,
Washington. Both he and his cousin and brother-in-law, Jacob
Milstein, had been Colorado Volunteers during an Indian distur-
bance in 1887.

The Prezants, the Shuterans, David Korpitsky and his daughters,
and the Toplitskys moved to Denver, where they entered various
fields of business and soon prospered. Several of the men served
on the Denver Police Force and Fire Department.

For some years the Tobias family lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming,
where they ran a hardware store.

The Schneider family, including the sons-in-law Morris and New-
man, moved to a farm near Omaha, Nebraska, and the Needleman
and Moscowitz families homesteaded in South Dakota. The
younger Shradskys moved to California from Cotopaxi.

Soloman Shuteran participated in the Cripple Creek gold rush in
1892 and established a comfortable family fortune by profitable
real estate investments in that region.

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

                      Part VI, Conclusions

Despite its failure, its remoteness, its impermanence and its long
submergence in undocumented oblivion, the Cotopaxi Colony did
have significance in the shaping of American-Jewish agricultural
history. In the immigrant Jew’s attempt to return to the soil, to re-
turn to his ancient national character of the agrarian, the colony
experiment played a definite and important role. This colony at
Cotopaxi happened to be the first of more than sixteen similar
Jewish colonies, located in Louisiana, Arkansas, the Dakotas, Kan-
sas, Nebraska, Oregon and Michigan. Although individually Jews
had long been active and successful in American agriculture, the
colony plan, as demonstrated by successful groups during the
1870’s, such as the Union and Chicago colonies in Colorado,
seemed better suited for the conquest of the arid high plains and
the distant Mountain and Pacific Coast regions, especially for
newly-arrived Jews. Other national and religious groups had cho-
sen the collective method as the best way to achieve security and a
comfortable social milieu in unfriendly or desolate areas.

Analyses of the histories of these other Jewish Colonies, many of
which experienced even worse hardships and exploitation schemes
than the one at Cotopaxi, show the same underlying causes for
failure. Most of them were conceived in haste, under great pres-
sure, emotional and political, without adequate consideration of
those factors upon which successful colonization or even profitable
private farming, depend. Geographical location, with relationship
to markets, national and local economy, transportation, the char-
acter of the land, type of ownership, lease or title, the capital
needs, availability of equipment and seed, the existence of any
special problems such as the necessity for irrigation, drainage, ero-
sion control, the economic and social condition of the neighboring
farmers in comparison with the prospective colonists, the nature
of work involved, the personality and integrity of sponsorship and
leadership, and last, but not least, the homogeneity of purpose and

                                                        The Cotopaxi Colony

                                                  temperament and physical fitness of the colony members them-
                                                  selves--none of these vital requirements had received sufficient
                                                  consideration in the hectic and unhappy 1880’s.

                                                  It has never been charged that the Cotopaxi Colony failed because
Why Cotopaxi failed
In addition to the comprehensive list shown       of the members’ inability, or lack of inclination for hard, manual,
here by Satt, the operational failing most to
the fore seems to have been the pioneers’         menial labor, or weakness under privation and hardship. It was
difficulty in defending their property
against the frontier’s inherent disorder.
Thus, not only did the colonists lose their
                                                  dissolved when the foolhardiness of persevering on land which
oxen before they reached the Cotopaxi
plateau, but they had land whose water            was definitely not adapted for agricultural purposes, an arid, stony
rights they were unable to assert, they grew
crops which they failed to protect against        valley almost 7,000 feet above sea-level, was realized. Similar
wild animals and they had winter supplies
which they surrendered to bears and               natural or environmental causes were found in the other Jewish
destitute tribesmen. (We may take it that
the lack of any comment to the contrary
indicates that these unfortunates were
                                                  colonies begun in the 1880’s; flood destroyed the Louisiana col-
                                                  ony, malaria was the villain in Arkansas, hail, drought and prairie
This points to a consistent lack of the
belligerence required for life on the frontier.   fires combined to foil the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas attempts,
This is not to suggest the pioneers lacked
pluck, but the record shows less of the           while poor, swampy land, combined with a severe local depres-
physical presence which might have
secured their interests in the first place, and
more of a propensity for disputation with
                                                  sion, was the nemesis of the Michigan colony at Bad Axe. Though
third-parties after losses had been incurred.
                                                  ill-fated and short-lived, these agricultural experiments were not
                                                  bare of results, for these very failures focused attention on the
                                                  great need for better guidance, more careful organization, thor-
                                                  ough investigation of the site before settlement, and other factors
                                                  attainable only by means of a definite, well-financed, well-staffed
                                                  Jewish farm movement. This awareness led to the foundation, in
                                                  1884, of first, the Montefiore Agricultural Aid Society, followed by
                                                  the establishment of the famous Baron de Hirsch Fund, which set
                                                  up the Jewish Colonization Association and the Industrial Re-
                                                  moval Office. These last two merged in 1900 to become the Jewish
                                                  Agricultural Society whose function it has been to encourage,
                                                  counsel, educate, train, and settle groups of agriculturally-minded
                                                  Jews on the land. It has also been responsible for aiding in the ad-
                                                  justment of these groups to their new environment.

                                                  That the return of the Jew to the land is a good thing for America
                                                  as a whole is undisputed, for, looking beyond such factors as re-
                                                  lieving congestion in urban centers, redistributing population and
                                                  skills, combating anti-Semitism, or even demonstrating Jewish

                               Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

ability to farm, there is a deeper and broader significance, histori-
cally and sociologically. The gain, since 1890, in numbers of Jews
on American farms, during a period when the trend of population
was to further urbanization, is an important indication, not to be
measured in quantity alone. These numbers represent a positive
gain in normalization, and the Jewish farmers found for them-
selves and their descendants a precious lode of self-satisfaction
and self-respect in rediscovering the advantages of life on the soil.

Of the effect of the Cotopaxi Colony on Colorado, it will be noted
that nearly all of the members remained in the State, or nearby, in
farming, stock-raising and allied fields, or quickly became inde-
pendent and prosperous in business and commerce. They were not
discouraged by their failure in Fremont County, but tried again, on
an individual or family-group basis, in widely-scattered areas, on
homestead land or purchased farms. These ‘pioneers’ became the
nucleus of small Jewish communities in such cities as Longmont,
Pueblo, Rocky Ford, Montrose and Grand Junction and helped at-
tract later Jewish immigration to these places. Those who settled
in Denver and nearby towns were quickly Americanized and as-
similated in the business and political life and were in a position, a
decade later, to help in adjusting and advising the vast numbers of
Jews who flocked to Denver for their health.

Too much blame for the Cotopaxi Colony’s failure has been attrib-
uted to the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society’s lack of foresight and
careful investigation, but it must be remembered that the plans
were undertaken just at the moment when Russian pogroms
caused thousands of destitute refugees to crowd into New York,
completely absorbing the time and funds available. Too little at-
tention has been paid to the unfortunate role played by the Soci-
ety’s erstwhile investigator, Julius Schwarz, whose complicity with
the motives of Emanuel H. Saltiel prevented an adequate fore-
warning of the problems ahead More emphasis should be placed
on   the    labor-procurement       aspect    of   Saltiel’s    offer…

       The Cotopaxi Colony

(Material absent from original)

...for the nature and composition of a large part of Colorado’s so-
cial development. Lastly, the significance of their experience at
Cotopaxi affected the colonists themselves, their children and
grandchildren, in that it gave them a share, however small and un-
usual, in the history of their State and their nation.

                                       Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

                                           Appendix One—A note on sources
This appendix lists sources for the life of Saltiel the Cotopaxi colony and the period; provides a critical rehearsal of the
latter; tests the primary and principal compendium sources, offers an explanation of the legacy of bitterness, and makes
some concluding remarks. An article based on this Appendix and Appendix Three is to be published by the Rocky
Mountain Jewish Historical Notes (RMJHN) of the University of Denver, whose rights are hereby acknowledged. I am
delighted to have the opportunity to express my appreciation of the editorial support of the RMJHN, in particular the
kindnesses of its editor, Dr Jeanne Abrams.

A—List of sources

Written sources for the life of Saltiel include:
    Saltiel’s personal correspondence and court martial transcripts from the National Military Archive, Library of Congress,
    Washington DC.
    Justice at Fort Laramie, William E Unrau, Arizona and the West, 1973.
    Emanuel Saltiel—Incognito to Fort Laramie, Moshe Shaltiel, Shealtiel Gazette, Vol I,
    No IV, December 1995 and available at
    incl primary sources, that is census, directory and birth records in the US and England (the latter courtesy Dr A.P. Joseph
    of Edgbaston, England).
Written sources for the Cotopaxi colony include (in order of publication):
    Report of Mr Julius Schwarz on the colony of Russian refugees at Cotopaxi, Colorado, established by the Hebrew Emi-
    grant Aid Society of the United States, 15 State Street, New York City, 23 October 1882, with an ex libris label, “Yale
    University Library, Discovery and Settlement of Western North America, Collection of William Robertson Coe”. The copy
    in my possession is sourced from the Library of Congress, where the original is held under call no. zc49 892sc; location:
    Beinecke (non-circulating).
    Letter to HEAS by George H Kohn and Louis Wirkowski, 30 Jan 1883; reply by H S Henry 15 February 1883; reprinted
    in Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Notes, Vol 1 No 3, June 1978 (cited as RMJHN).
    The Jewish Colony at Cotopaxi, Dorothy Roberts, Colorado Magazine, July 1941.
    The present article, The Cotopaxi Colony, unpublished M.A. thesis by Flora Jane Satt, University of Colorado, 1950. Ref-
    erences to Satt’s text are to this document; references to notes are as enumerated in links pointed to at http://
    Interesting Historical Facts Concerning Cotopaxi Pioneers, Elizabeth Gulliford, “The Sun”, 26, August, 1954, available
    Pioneers, peddlers, and Tsadikim: the story of the Jews in Colorado, Ida Libert Uchill, Boulder, Colo, 1957; [re]printed
    1979 by Quality Line Print Co; incl. an extract from a 1932 report by Dr Charles D Spivak & Dr J.M Morriss, cited at p176
    in original.
    Max Rosenthal’s article about Jewish agricultural colonies in the U.S. in (note, as at October
    2005, this seems to have been truncated).
    The website created by A. Armstrong to satisfy the requirements for the final project of the Nationalism and Zionism
    course taught by Professor David Shneer at the University of Denver and available at: (This is undated; it has come up only recently on Google searches; on
    the other hand A. Armstrong is no longer at UD; this dates it between c2000 and 2004.)
    Hard Times: The Jewish colony at Cotopaxi, Nancy Oswald, Colorado Central Magazine, No. 132, February 2005, Page
    26; and available at:

I am happy to acknowledge my debt to Greta Heintzelman, the Reference/Cataloging Librarian of the American Jewish
Historical Society of New York, who drew my attention to two other sources for HEAS and Jewish agricultural colonies
of the period, specifically:
    The Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society of the United States, 1881-1883, Gilbert Osofsky, Publications of the American Jewish
    Historical Society (1893-1961); Sept 1959-Jun 1960, 49, 1-4; AJHS Journal, p173.
    Annotated Documentary of Jewish Agricultural colonies as Reported in the Pages of the Russian Hebrew Press, “Ha-
    Melitz” and “Ha-Yom”, Joel S Geffen, American Jewish Historical Quarterly (1961-1978); Sept 1970-Jun 1971; 60, 1-4;
    AJHS Journal, p355.
Other sources include conversations with Dr Jeanne Abrams of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society at the
Centre for Judaic Studies of the University of Denver; Tom Young of Cotopaxi, Colorado; Bill Jones of the Silverton
Mine & Museum; and Ranson Baker of Rawlins, Wyoming, the historian of Carbon County, in which Rawlins lies.

                                                    The Cotopaxi Colony
B—Survey of sources on the Cotopaxi colony
The first five written sources may be seen as independent, albeit of varying levels of reliability, as they contain different
and occasionally contradictory information.

Schwarz’ report to HEAS

The principal source of new data comes from Schwarz’ 1882 report on the colony. He is a patently unreliable witness:
his account is riddled with errors, trivial as to computation but large as to judgement; his tone is hopelessly over-
optimistic, making it inevitable that he got a rough ride from HEAS when he presented it to them. Following this his
name is no longer to be found in the record of the colony. Even so, his report offers many facts which we have no reason
to challenge and which are unavailable elsewhere.
Schwarz’ document has the character of a report to be presented personally to HEAS’ Committee. It begins by identify-
ing him as the colony's General Manager. He then describes how he allocated eleven lots to the newly arriving colonists,
generally of 160 acres each but totalling 1,780 acres (this presumably a typo for 1,760 acres, that is eleven quarter-
section lots), with nine further quarter-section lots surveyed (pp3-5). Schwarz then describes the local laws governing
land registration: this may not occur until land is occupied, five out of the 160 acres cultivated (and in the case of home-
steads a cabin erected), and boundaries staked (p5). He then enumerates the colonists giving a total of sixty persons, 31
males and 29 females (pp5-6).

On pages 6 to 10 Schwarz provides an essay on irrigation, its indispensability in Fremont County, the crops arising (in
the main fruits and vegetables), and concluding that water for irrigating the fertile soil is readily to hand. This roseate
prospect is shaded by his account of the modesty of the colonists’ actual achievements. He confirms that planting began
too late for grain and at the time of his report encompassed only forty acres of communally planted potatoes, cabbages,
beets, beans, turnips, onions, cucumbers, melons, peas, corn and radish (p10). He also confirms that crops on private
farmsteads were eaten by “the thousands of cows grazing in the Wet River Valley” and that only eight of the twelve
farmstead houses had been built (p11), obliging some farmers to walk to their lots daily (p12). This is confusing as ear-
lier he states that only four farmstead houses had been built (p5).

At the time he wrote, Schwarz expected to have 45,000 pounds of potatoes for sale after setting aside seed for the next
season (p11), though low prices were expected to impede prompt sale, and he provided specimens of a potato and a beet
(p13). He noted that the colonists had cows and calves (p13), except for three families (p15). Page 14 contains an ac-
count of the colony’s religious life. Schwarz then confirmed that the colonists needed cash by reporting that they “earn
money daily” (p15); and that he had made arrangements with “Mr P.M. Carroll, one of the officers of the Gunnison Di-
vision of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad” for such colonists as require it to obtain employment at $2.00 per day
(p13); this is the context in which he praises the energy and commitment of the colonists.

On page 15, Schwarz gives an account of the expenditure of the $8,750 provided by HEAS:
                  Food                                                                         $1,544.87
                  Accommodation                                                               $3,460.00
                  Sundry supplies, that is
                  barbed wire, twelve cows, a team and wagon, ploughs,
                  agricultural implements, seeds, furniture, hauling, etc.                    $5,044.00
                  Some immediate comments.
                 1. Schwarz reports expenditure of a shade under $10,050 against HEAS advances of
                    $8,750, but he fails to balance the books. The c$1,300 overspend is neither recog-
                    nised nor attributed to HEAS.
                 2. On p16, Schwarz reports that the colony’s assets include a mule-team and wagon;
                    this is to draw a veil over the loss of the ox-team (Gulliford, para 5), although the
                    accounts of manhandling (Satt, p21) tell us that the team was unrecovered; the
                    loss is implied by Schwarz’ reference to “hauling”.
                 3. At this point, a similar veil is drawn over credit from the store. The sum for food
                    falls so far short of the other estimates discussed below, as to suggest that at this
                    point Schwarz expected the colonists to use their earnings on the railroad to repay
                    their debts for food over and above the $1,544.87 which he attributes to HEAS.
                    The crisis which came shortly after the date of Schwarz’ report seems to have fol-
                    lowed HEAS’ recognition of their inability or disinclination to do so.

                                       Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

Schwarz goes on to request $500 from HEAS to pay for the salary of his assistant, Leon, identified by Satt as
“Max” (Satt, p23). Satt also tells us that “Mr. Tobias was the only colonist not recruited in Russia, having joined the
group in New York during the winter of 1881. He and his wife had been in the US since 1877 and spoke English better
than most of the others” (Satt, III, n12). The $500 was also to cover arrears of rent for communal accommodation, a
distribution of flour, and cows and calves for the three families without them (pp15-16). Schwarz concludes with ex-
travagant remarks extolling the colony and its participants.

Schwarz was Hungarian (Satt, p23) and his ability to speak Yiddish to the colonists would have made for mutual
warmth. Satt repeatedly mentions his youth (Satt, pp17, 21, 23), making him of an age with many of the settlers: Satt
identifies eleven out of the 23 heads of family she enumerates as being between eighteen and thirty years of age (Satt,
III, n35). This community of outlook must have offset the caution of his background as a lawyer (Satt, pp17, 23) to ac-
count for the unqualified enthusiasm of his writing about the colony. He wrote affectionately of the settlers, indeed
some passages parade his affection extravagantly to modern taste.
         “...the management of the colony never failed to remain in contact with the refugees, never failed to show that it
         feels for them and with them, imbuing thereby in the desperate hearts of the lingering refugees the consoling con-
         sciousness that there is somebody who watches over them, knows them and understands them” (p11).

He praises the “gentlemanly conduct of the majority of colonists” (p11) and expands at length on their capacity for work
(pp13-14). In this passage he makes no secret that the colonists worked in a mine, presumably Saltiel’s, remarking that
“they worked in damp, dark mines as good (sic) and as perseveringly as trained miners”. Whatever we make of this, the
evidence is that the colonists returned his warmth. Satt notes that he “joined with the Russian immigrants in their reli-
gious observances and was chosen Secretary of the Congregation” (Satt, p23).

It is hard to know how safely we may disregard Satt’s concluding stigmatisation.
         “Too little attention has been paid to the unfortunate role played by the Society’s erstwhile investigator, Julius
         Schwarz, whose complicity with the motives of Emanuel H Saltiel prevented an adequate forewarning of the prob-
         lems ahead” (Satt, p33).

In fact we now know that Schwarz was very much in touch with HEAS. His approach need not make him a villain; it
might be better to remember that he was a youngster. His general euphoria reflects the preoccupations of his time, in
particular the notion of redemption via the soil. He makes common mistakes, for example that the colonists included
“three trained farmers” and were otherwise tradesmen (p14); this is to overlook that five out of twenty-two heads of
families were members of the clan owning an agricultural supply business (Satt, p10; Satt, III, n35). His representation
of himself as General Manager of the colony (Schwarz, pp2 and 3) is confirmed by the report of the committee formed
by Denver’s Jewish community of attorney George H Kohn and Louis Wirkowski (RMJHN Vol 1, No 3, p1). Some of his
remarks seem irrelevant as well as mistaken, for example his lengthy essay on irrigation (pp6-10). His report of expen-
ditures (p15) may be over-stated, in that we understand that Saltiel subsequently settled with HEAS—presumably for
less. His themes play to the gallery, in his repeated assurances that the colonists are worthy of the experiment, for ex-
ample his report of some anonymous praise, “Your folks are first-class workers” (p13), and his assertion that the colo-
nists “have brought respect to the Jewish name in the Rocky mountains...more than realized our most sanguine expec-
tations”, etc, etc (p16). He lays it on with a trowel in such remarks (also without attribution) as, “The only trouble with
your people is they work too fast...” (pp13-14), let alone the extravagances with which he concludes. We should also dis-
regard his euphoric conclusions and predictions, some of which were promptly falsified, for example his expected 22-
ton crop of potatoes (p11), altogether failed (Satt, p24).

All of this said, he provides information that is available nowhere else and with nothing to discredit it. The subjects cov-
ered include the mechanics of the allocation of the farmsteads (Schwarz, pp3-5); the resort to communal cultivation
(p10); the provision of kosher meat after the beginning of August (p13) (n.b., this may have been the spur for the set-
tlers to earn cash, if supplied directly from Denver, that is not on store credit. It also tells us that the settlers established
direct and continuous contact with Denver’s Jewish community several months before the late Autumn crisis); the sup-
ply of cows and calves for milk after the beginning of October (also p13); a pen-portrait of one of the colonists as for-
merly a “boisterous rebel...a dissatisfied quarrelsome creature”, this before the redemptive effect of agricultural labour,
after which “his farm looks like a flower garden” (p4), though this did give Kohn and Wirkowski rhetorical openings,
when they were unable to find it under the snows of January 1883 (RMJHN, p2); another pen-portrait of the colonists’
diet: “bread, butter, fish, rice, coffee, beans, prunes, dried apples and potatoes” (p13), most store-bought goods, making

                                                 The Cotopaxi Colony
it clear how credit would have mounted up; a sinister hint of the merit of avoiding “quarrelsome litigation” with
neighbouring farmers (p4), presumably an echo of the depredations reported by Roberts (p127); and a confirmation
that the settlers regarded themselves as indebted to HEAS (Schwarz, p16).

Schwarz would have to have been an evil genius of extraordinary prescience to have planted the incidental elements
which weigh most with us near 125 years later: his observations that Colorado land titles called for registration and im-
provement by the occupants themselves (Schwarz, p5); his expectations for the potato crop (p11); his unembarrassed
disclosure that the colonists had worked in a mine, presumably Saltiel’s (p13); his report that he had arranged for em-
ployment for as many as might seek it with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (also p13); and his ingenuous assur-
ance that the colonists were eager to repay their debts to HEAS (p16). Schwarz’ tone is positive throughout. At no point
does he recognise that the colony was weeks away from a cash crisis; the $500 he sought from HEAS was trivial by
comparison with the underlying sums.

Correspondence between Kohn & Wirkowski and Henry (cited as RMHJN)

In June 1978 the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Notes published excerpts from a correspondence between George
H Kohn & Louis Wirkowski of Denver and H S Henry, the President of HEAS in New York. The provenance of this cor-
respondence is itself instructive. The letter of Kohn & Wirkowski is dated 30 January 1883. From Henry’s reply, we
learn that the Kohn & Wirkowski letter was covered by a letter from Kohn and H Silver on 5 February 1883. Dr Jeanne
Abrams, the Editor of the RMJHN, introduces the correspondence by noting that Kohn & Wirkowski published their
letter in the Denver Tribune on 7 February 1883, that is two days after they sent it to New York. Abrams notes that both
letters were subsequently reprinted in the American Israelite of Cincinnati (no date given).

It is probable, but not certain that the Kohn &Wirkowski letter is that referred to by Satt in her account of the “three
prominent men” from Denver who visited the colony and sent an appeal to HEAS (Satt, p26). Roberts’ account of the
same visit identifies one of the visitors as George H Kohn, an attorney (Roberts, p129). The element of uncertainty
arises because Satt did not see the original document and follows her source, the Spivak report of 1925, in identifying
the authors of the letter as Kohn, Witkovski (an evident typo) and one A Strauss of whom we know no more (Satt, III,

On page one, Kohn & Wirkowski begin by describing the sequence of arrivals: fifty settlers on 8 May 1882 and a further
fourteen on 28 August 1882, for a total of sixty three after allowing for the death of an infant. This is a simplification of
the to-ings and fro-ings described by Schwarz. Kohn & Wirkowski confirm that Schwarz arrived in Cotopaxi with the
first group of settlers as the colony’s “clerk”. They then complain about the infrastructure by comparison with that de-
picted in Schwarz’ report, in particular arguing that the houses, billed at $280 apiece “could have been built for $100”.
They then describe the farms, characterising one as a “mean strip of land”, and the surrounding country, where “a beast
could not live” and enjoy a good knock-about in rebutting Schwarz’ account of a settlers‘ “flower garden” which they
were unable to find.

On page two, Kohn & Wirkowski repeat Schwarz’ computation that allotted lands totalled 1,780 (rather than 1,760)
acres; provide an anecdote about a colonist who planted four bags of potatoes to gather only fifteen (in later accounts
this was to become a legend of planting fourteen bags and getting fifteen (Roberts, p127); and of one Morris Mimkorsky
who swam a swollen creek to get food for his sick wife. They then confirm that the colonists are earning cash from a zinc
mine—if Saltiel’s this was actually his silver mine; they do not touch on scrip—and the “odd job” from the railroad, in-
cluding piece-work at one cent per hauled log. This is at odds with both Schwarz and Satt, both of whom indicate that
work on the railroad was readily available at satisfactory daily rates. Kohn and Wirkowski conclude by requesting relief
by way of clothes and provisions and arrangements to transport the colonists to happier climes.

Henry’s response (all RMJHN, p6) takes a fairly Olympian tone. He starts by noting that the investigators visited the
colony for less than twelve hours in mid-winter. He does not say (though we certainly can) that at such a season much
is concealed by snow cover. Henry satirises Kohn & Wirkowski’s report as a “forcible literary production”, undermined
by including “many things which we know to be erroneous”. Given that Kohn and Wirkowski sent their letter on 5 Feb-
ruary and that within ten days Henry had obtained sufficient information to contradict it circumstantially, we may take
it that by then Western Union had reached Cotopaxi.

                                       Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

Henry confirms that Schwarz arrived with the colonists and was in Cotopaxi for middle part of the year. He refers to the
example of German and Irish pioneers and notes that,
        “…it seemed to us that the very nature of the land at Cotopaxi, and the kind of farming required there, was spe-
        cially adapted to the Russian refugee, whose experience had been chiefly in the planting of vegetables, whose phy-
        sique was less able to battle with the clearing of land…”

This tells us a couple of things. Henry shared the general misapprehension that the colonists had agricultural experi-
ence, whereas we know that the Ekaterinaslav agricultural co-operative had collapsed eleven years earlier (Satt, p10)
and the leadership of the Cotopaxi pioneers came from the Milstein clan of seed merchants (Satt, p10; II,25). In addi-
tion all concerned had abandoned such element of stockraising as was contemplated by Saltiel in his original promise of
cattle, horses, wagons and a year’s supply of fodder (Satt, p14), the absence of which gave rise to no complaint by the
settlers (Satt, p20).

Henry then goes on to stigmatise Russian Jews as given to mendicancy. These remarks are disagreeable, but under-
standable given the dissonance between American (in particular frontier) values of rugged individualism and the cele-
bration of alms as a mitzvah (blessing) among traditional Jews. It also doubtless reflected Henry’s irritation that by
asking for more money, the Cotopaxi colonists were in effect repudiating the obligations to HEAS they had earlier as-
Henry then suggests that Kohn & Wirkowski have been imposed upon by “Christian farmers, whom you have seen, or
other interested parties” as to the quality of the land. It is not clear to me what Henry was getting at, but evidently he
was mistaken about the substantive issue: the land was useless for farming. In the excerpt provided in the RMJHN,
Henry goes on to rebut the story of Morris Minorski, whom he (Henry) refers to as Mitkowski. Neither name appears in
Satt’s list of colonists (Satt, II, 35); perhaps he was Berel Morris. Henry concludes by taking exception to the premature
publication of the letter from Kohn & Wirkowski, which he characterises as a failing in judgement and protocol, and
contributory grounds to dismiss its substance. It is a sign of the times, as well as the indirect character of the dealings
between the two sides, that neither side felt it expedient to introduce finances to the face of the correspondence at this
stage. Evidently this was not the end of the negotiations between HEAS, the colonists and Saltiel, but at present no
other direct evidence is to hand.

Satt, provides the definitive compendium account. She refers to a handful of earlier specialist articles, including that by
Roberts and gives due weight to the “first draft of history”, the contemporary record of the newspapers of the day, in
particular, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Republican. Generally the former serves for such uncontrover-
sial matters as identifying Hart as Saltiel’s partners (III, n4), sometimes less certainly for such corollary information as
the price of sawmill timber, which neither we nor Satt are able to make much sense of (III, n19). The Denver Republi-
can was a party to and serves as a sample of the campaign against Saltiel (III, n26)

Satt made an extensive programme of visits: in May 1949 to New York City to see original correspondence or other
documents attaching to HEAS (III, n27); and to neighbours, survivors or descendants of the colonists, as well as to the
site of the colony itself, in on 14 and 15 August 1949 (sometimes confusingly cited as 1948). For the account of the colo-
nists’ arrival in Cotopaxi, she relies on “a personal interview by Charles H. McCoy on August 15, 1948” (Satt, III, n1).
McCoy was 22 years old at the time of the colonists’ arrival, making him 88 years old at the time of the interview. This
said, he is reliable to the extent that we have corroborating sources; his main lacuna is the loss of the ox-team
(Gulliford, para 5).
On close scrutiny, however, Satt’s sources for the period thereafter are fallible. She relies on her interviews with the two
then surviving members of the colony: Mrs. Hannah Quiat (a.k.a. Quiatkowski—Roberts, p125) on 6 August (Satt, III,
n15 ) and 15 August 1949 (Satt, III, n7); and Mrs. Rachel Singer on 15 August 1949 (Satt, III, n7); plus the descendant of
a colonist, Rose Ornstein on 15 August 1949 (Satt, II, n22; and Satt, III, n23). In her notes (Satt, II, n35) Satt identifies
Hannah and Rachel as the “two young daughters” of Isaac Lieb “Shames” (Milstein). Rose Ornstein was born after the
colony was disbanded into the family of one of the two Jacob Milsteins (Satt, II, n22). The Milsteins were the leading
clan in the colony, but none of these households is identified by Satt as among the leaders of the settlement (Satt, p23).

                                                   The Cotopaxi Colony
She has just three primary sources, of which she saw only one in its original form. This is the 8 September 1880 letter
from Saltiel to Heilprin, of which she saw fragments (II, n27 and III n18). The second is a citation from the Spivak re-
port to a letter from Saltiel to Heilprin of October 1881 (III, n6). The third, also cited in the Spivak report (III, n25), is a
letter from Kohn and Wirkovsky to Henry. I assume this is the same document as that reprinted in the Rocky Mountain
Jewish Historical Notes (Vol 1 No 3, pp1,2,6); the timing seems right, but it may be a later document as she joins with
Spivak in adding Straus as a signatory.
Satt’s account of Saltiel himself is accurate as to his career after c1866 (I, 19). She was unaware that he came to the
United States as an adolescent or of his adventures in the military. There is no evidence that Saltiel was educated in
Europe as an “engineer and metallurgist”, though his written English betrays conventional education. She writes of him
having a thick accent, unlikely as he was a native speaker of British English.

Satt was wholly unaware of Schwarz’ report. Given the general obscurity of this document, she has been taken as the
definitive text by all writers after Gulliford, who offer no new information. By contrast Roberts and Gulliford present
anecdotes that are either absent from Satt’s MA thesis or treated in a different fashion. Only Roberts writes of the char-
acter of the settlers’ title (p127), the appropriation of water rights and fertile land by other settlers (also p127), or of Ed
Grimes’ walk to Denver (p130); only Gulliford writes of the loss of the oxen (para 5), or the late planting (para 6). Satt
implicitly confirms the former in her account of colonists’ manhandling their possessions up to the plateau (p21). Satt
was evidently unaware of the reason for this expedient or chose to present it, unexplained, as yet another incident of the
colonists’ distress. This is of a piece with her gloomy spin on even trivial episodes; for example the “rather crowded
fashion” of the accommodation provided for sixty-one arrivals in Saltiel’s hotel in Cotopaxi (p18). Presumably this was
no hotel but the communal accommodation—in effect bunkhouse—reported by Schwarz (pp12, 15, 16).

Satt was a neighbour of the descendants of the other settlers in Fremont County and a descendant of the colonists
themselves. The former may explain her failure to repeat Roberts’ account of misappropriation of land and water,
though she gives a hint in her concluding remarks about the need to take account of “the social and economic condi-
tions of the neighbouring farmers in comparison with the prospective colonists” (p31). The latter presumably explains
her uncritical acceptance of the colonists’ demand for a rebate (p24) and the return of their “lost money” (p25). Roberts
anticipated Satt’s approach to this topic by making no comment on the newspaper account she quoted of the recollec-
tion of B Prezant, a veteran of the colony. He recalled asking tearfully that Saltiel should provide the colonists with
“their rightful share of money entrusted to him for their needs” (Roberts, p129). Setting aside questions about the accu-
racy of the original newspaper, Appendix Three establishes that a request along these lines would have been misguided.
Satt’s work offers no inkling that this might have been the case. For all that this attests to Satt’s commitment to her the-
sis, it also represents something of a departure from the standards to be expected from a work of scholarship.
Her affiliation with the descendants of the pioneers may also explain her patience with their clumsiness with stock,
both their own—that is the oxen (p21 & Gulliford, para 5), and others—that is neighbours’ cattle (p20 and Roberts,
p127); as well as their unbecoming inactivity at the nuisances presented by bears (p24), neighbours (Roberts, p127),
and begging tribesmen (p25). It cannot explain the ludicrous reference to European guns (p24), which must simply re-
flect the gulf between Colorado in 1950 and the economic, social and legal predicament of Jews in 1880s Russia.
Satt is confusing on the numbers of colonists. On page 9 she writes of twenty-two heads of families, so enumerated in
her notes (Satt, III, n35); on page 17 of twenty family groups; on page 20 of twenty quarter-section lots; on page 22 of a
twenty-first “family unit” and on page 29 once again of twenty-two family groups, but her remarks about indebtedness
(p15) only make sense with a denominator of 23 family units. This said, Satt’s figures seem more circumstantial than
those offered by Roberts, who writes of sixteen families (op cit p125) but enumerates eighteen family groups (op cit
p125-6). Both sources agree that the colony numbered 63 persons at its peak. Satt and Roberts also differ as to the se-
quence of arrivals. Roberts writes of thirteen families and fifty individuals arriving on 8 May 1882, with the colony fill-
ing out to 63 persons as “three more families arrived during the summer.” Roberts cites only secondary sources
whereas Satt interviewed one or two of the settlers’ descendants. This causes me to place greater confidence in her ac-
count of twenty family groups on 8 May and a twenty-first after the Milsteins arrived in mid June. If there were 63 set-
tlers at the peak we may deduct the Milstein couple to reach 61 arrivals in May (this overlooks the complication of the
tragic death of three infants). Although Schwarz provides a contemporaneous account of 6o colonists (p6) and a more
circumstantial account of arrivals and departures, he fails to identify all of the colonists or to enumerate the departure

                                       Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

of the Moskowitzes (identified, enumerated but departure unreported by Satt), or the arrival of the Lautersteins
(altogether unreported by Satt). In this light and slightly reluctantly, my calculations of working capital below rely on
the best data to hand, namely the twenty two families provided by Satt on page 29 despite its apparent simplification.
Satt is silent on finance, other than the grievances of the pioneers and a fleeting acknowledgment of their indebtedness.
She does not report the loss of the ox-team and in consequence fails to alert us to its economic implications. If the colo-
nists owned the team, they incurred a disastrous capital loss at the outset; if they had hired the team they would have
incurred an obligation to its owner, whether for the loss of stock or the costs of its recovery. Either way they had to
make other arrangements for draft animals. Like Roberts, Satt is silent on the extent of the credit taken by the colonists
from their arrival to the “Autumn” (p24). She is swift to seize on the unfairness of payment by scrip, but fails to set this
in the context of the credit already taken by the colonists, or the history of the period. She is mistaken as to the position
of Schwarz, who—contrary to her surmise—did not defect from his duties to HEAS, but regarded himself as their repre-
sentative. As she had not seen his October 1882 report, she was in no position to comment on its content or tone. Fi-
nally, she give no account of the process by which the colonists indebtedness was reversed to generate a further dis-
bursement, presenting it simply as equitable recompense for Saltiel’s deceit.
Satt does not question—indeed her conclusion from pages 31 to 34 positively embraces—the redemptive power of the
soil, particularly as it might bear upon Jews. She probably wrote too early to place this notion in the historical context
available to us, by way of the undistinguished agricultural experience of Jews outside what is now Israel; the dimin-
ished interest in Jewish redemption; or the excesses of agricultural ambition on the high plains of the United States.
Satt is most reliable where she is not spinning her story to serve her thesis, which she was the first to publish: that
Saltiel promoted the colony to engineer a pool of sweated labour. Gulliford’s fragmentary anecdotage is silent on the
topic and Roberts’ assertion, that he wished to “boost” the area, is less definite. It is not clear if the “sweated labour”
thesis was a tradition of the colonists which they passed on to Satt, or something she developed on her own account.
She presents it with passion, but slightly less penetration; the specifics of her allegations are addressed in Appendix
Three. We also test below five of the pillars of her case: the arrival of Schwarz in Cotopaxi, the provision of cabins, the
late Autumn crisis, the conditions of mid-winter 1882-83, and the negotiations from March to late summer 1883 lead-
ing to the three-way final settlement between the pioneers, HEAS and Saltiel.

Other sources

Uchill, Oswald and Armstrong rely upon Satt to whom they add no new fact. Uchill erroneously identifies Saltiel as
Hart’s cousin and a South African. (The misidentification of Saltiel as Portuguese is a recurrent confusion of Sephardic
identities.) Oswald is the first of Cotopaxi’s chroniclers to take account of material deposited at the Cotopaxi library by
the present writer, for which many thanks. Armstrong is singular in building upon Satt’s thesis to suggest that the colo-
nists misunderstood their position so radically as to become virtual “serfs”; and were “under the impression that they
were indebted for the land that Saltiel had filed on for them, so money to reclaim the deed would be needed to leave the
Colony.” As Armstrong cites no sources, we may take this previously unheard notion as speculation. I address it in Ap-
pendix Three—Allegations.

C—Comparison of sources
We may test the principal sources before us in order to develop a sense of their reliability. We examine the arrival of
Schwarz in Colorado, which underpins the allegation that he conspired with Saltiel to deceive HEAS; the provision of
accommodation, which underpins the allegation that rebates due the colonists were improperly withheld; and the de-
tails of the late autumn crisis, which bears upon the central allegation that Saltiel always intended the colony to fail so
as to establish a pool of sweated labour.

The arrival of Schwarz in Colorado
Part of Satt’s thesis is that Schwartz defected from his obligations to HEAS and combined with Saltiel to deceive them
and the colonists. This turns out to be mistaken. The first part of her account is
        “Michael Heilprin…assign[ed] a young lawyer connected with the society, Julius Schwartz, to go to Colorado, make
        a thorough investigation of the locality, markets, soil, climate, etc., and return a report to the New York office.
        Schwartz left New York in January of 1881, but HEAS never received any report from him or word concerning
        him.” (Satt, p17)

                                                     The Cotopaxi Colony
This is unsourced, with the story of Schwarz’ trip of inspection possibly coming the source cited most adjacently, Pol-
lack’s life of Heilprin (Satt, II,23); and the story of the lack of news from him from Satt’s ignorance of the true date of
his arrival and the existence of his October report. Evidently Schwarz’ 1881 trip to Colorado was cancelled but his report
establishes that he never ceased to regard himself as HEAS’ agent. The second part of Satt’s narrative relies on the rec-
ollection of Rose Ornstein who told Satt that,
        “In November, 1881, Jacob Milstein left New York to survey the prospects in Colorado, and to look up Julius
        Schwartz. He never found Schwartz.” (Satt, II,n32)

This is because Schwarz hadn’t left New York. Millstein had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. We know this from
four sources: first Schwartz himself. On p12 of his report he wrote,
        “At the base of the Rocky Mountains, we have a more genial climate [than] in the same latitude near the level of
        the sea…In Colorado, in a tent, the tenderest babe and the most delicate invalid can live and sleep all the year

No matter Schwarz’ enthusiasms, such comments are inexplicable from anyone who had endured a Colorado winter.
He had not. The letter by Kohn & Wirkowski and the reply by H.S Henry independently substantiate the date of
Schwarz arrival. Kohn & Wirkowski wrote, “Julius Schwarz came with the colony as its clerk…” and Henry confirms this
by writing “Schwarz derived his experience during the summer and a five months residence there…” (RMJHN, pp1, 6).
Finally, Roberts writes that “Julius Schwarz, a young Hungarian lawyer, was sent to Cotopaxi soon after the arrival of
the refugees to look after the affairs of the colony” and offers a contemporaneous source, the Jewish Messenger of 1882
(Robert, p126). As Satt cited Roberts, it is odd that she failed to note the discrepancy with her oral sources on this topic.
From this we learn that Satt’s sources are unreliable, that she is given to err when she prefers them to contemporaneous
written sources, and that she jumps to conclusions.

Provision of cabins

Number and completion Part of Satt’s thesis is that the pioneers qualified for rebates in part as Saltiel’s overcharged
for accommodation. I address the issue of rebates in Appendix three. As to accommodation, Satt writes that
        “Saltiel had written to the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society in October, 1881 that the twenty houses were
        finished and that five large barns would be completed shortly...Now, more than seven months later, the
        newcomers found only twelve small, poorly-constructed cabins...”(Satt, p19)

Her sources are McCoy, Quiat and Singer (Satt III, nn1, 7). The primary source, Schwarz, appears to be in agreement as
to the total number, though whereas Satt says they were present on arrival, he writes of them being uncompleted in Oc-
tober. He also contradicts himself about the number of completions. On page four he writes of four houses already
built, six to be built on homesteads and two to be built in Cotopaxi township leading to the need to erect log cabins to
establish homestead rights. This makes twelve in total plus two log cabins. On pages 11 and 12, he writes of twelve
houses ordered by the committee, of which eight are completed.

We cannot reconcile Schwarz’ contradictory accounts of four (p4) versus 8 (pp11-12) completions. We can make sense,
however, of the apparent paradox that he should deny completions in October, which Satt reports in May, if we con-
sider that they are describing different houses. We are obliged to entertain somwethi9ng along these lines when we
come to examine the standard of accommodations.
Standards The cabins are described by Quiat and Singer as “approximately eight feet square, six feet high, with flat
roofs and no chimneys”. This is contradicted in almost every particular by Schwarz’ contemporaneous account which
writes of the cabins as 16 feet by 20 feet, double boarded and insulated, with tar paper insulation, containing three
rooms and a kitchen, with a 1-3 pitch roof, and 12 feet high in the centre. We can reconcile the two accounts by remind-
ing ourselves of Schwarz’ remarks about log cabins. These would have been the default configuration for all involved in
initial frontier construction, from saw-mill to site, built to a pattern intended to satisfy the minimum requirements of
the Homestead Acts.
        “The provisions of the Homestead Act largely dictated frontier home design and construction. The Act mandated
        that, in addition to other improvements to the land, homesteaders had to build a dwelling that was at least ten by
        twelve feet in size, and contained at least one glass window. Since more than half of all homesteaders lost their “bet
        with Uncle Sam” and gave up their claims before their five-year “proving up” period was completed…[c]omfort was
        often a secondary issue.” Source

                                       Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

After allowing for the exaggeration of children (recognised with the caveat of “approximately”), the cabins described by
Satt’s sources satisfy the requirements for homesteading, which would be familiar to the workmen on the spot as the
first objective of pioneers. The Cotopaxi colonists evidently found them disappointing so they came to serve—if at all—
as preliminary lodgings for farmers on remote plots until the more spacious arrangements described by Schwarz be-
came available. Such a second round of construction would have been abandoned after the cash ran out. Satt also men-
tions that “The men themselves built mud chimneys…” (Satt, p21). We should bear in mind that frontier chimneys were
invariably a labour-intensive affair of stones or mud; given the local labour shortage, these would have been impossible
to build prior to the arrival of the colonists.
Costs Satt dwells on the imperfections of the accommodation so as to establish one of the pillars of her case against
Saltiel, that he wilfully withheld money from the colonists after overcharging HEAS. When look at the specifics of the
case of overcharging, however, we find that it relies upon a misconstruction. Satt argues that “Saltiel…tendered [a bill]
to cover the cost of building twenty fine homes at $280.00 each” (Satt, p25). This is sourced to Saltiel’s letter to Heil-
prin, dated 19 September 188o. (Satt, III, n18). Earlier, however, she makes it clear that this letter contained Saltiel’s
original offer (Satt, p14; II, n27), so the figures represented a proposal rather than an invoice. Satt follows Kohn and
Wirkowski in pricing the cabins at $100 each. She associates this with information (possibly advertisements) in the
Rocky Mountain News of 2 December 1880 that ‘Two saw-mills were in operation in the immediate vicinity at this time
[with] ‘first-class lumber sold for $22.50 per thousand’ ” Satt, p25; III, n19). She declines the final step of working up
the price of the lumber for a log cabin from this and we are unable to do so. In the event Schwarz claimed not for twenty
but twelve homes at $280 (Schwarz p15).

In this instance, we see that Satt failed to take account of the realities of frontier life, that is the pattern of building fal-
ling out of the legal requirements to qualify for homesteading; that she was unaware of any second round of construc-
tion; and that she mistook the character of primary correspondence.

The late autumn crisis

We confirm the weakness of Satt’s sources and approach when we turn to the alternative sequences provided for the
events leading to the late Autumn crisis. Schwarz’ sequence is:
             Before Schwarz’ report to HEAS (i.e., reported in it)
                      Settlers work in a mine, presumably Saltiel’s, and on the Denver and Rio Grande Rail-
                      road, either to pay for the supplies of kosher meat or generally to support themselves.
             On or around 23 October 1882
                      Schwarz presents his report to the Committee of HEAS in New York.
             After Schwarz’ report to HEAS (i.e., unreported in it)
                      Potato crop fails and credit stopped.
Satt’s sequence is:
             Potato crop fails and credit stopped.
             Settlers obliged to work in Saltiel’s mine.
             Settlers discover alternative work at the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, work there instead.
Neither source is wholly satisfactory. The very date of Schwarz’ report is uncertain. It is prefaced, “New York, October
23, 1882”. The location is consistent with Schwarz’ remark about parting from the colonists (p16) and tells us that ei-
ther he presented it personally or was to hand to answer questions. The dating is complicated by a comment in his ap-
peal for funds, where he states that Tobias provided assistance between 2 and 18 November. This is at odds with evi-
dence internal to his report: at the time he wrote he was still hoping for a successful potato crop (Schwarz, p11), so he
must have written before the “exceptionally early frost [in] the autumn of 1882” which ruined the crop (Satt, p24). The
report’s positive content and tone make it clear that it was written before the crisis which occurred after store credit was
stopped in the late Autumn. Perhaps we can square this circle by noting that the document in my possession is a
printed edition of what must originally have been a manuscript. The layout of the document suggests that the table con-
taining the reference to “November” may have been compressed. On balance, this smacks of another typo.

Satt’s account is also defective. Her primary sources turn out to be few in number and less than safe. For the account of
the colonists’ arrival in Cotopaxi, she relies on interviews with elderly informants, long after the events concerned took
place. Ornstein has already been shown to be unreliable and the safety of material sourced from Quiat and Singer is
challenged above.
                                                   The Cotopaxi Colony

Satt’s account gives no reason for the credit stop, but the sequence of events that she offers makes it clear that it pre-
cipitated the crisis between Saltiel and the colonists. She confines her explanation to Saltiel’s perfidy, with no third-
party or documentary corroboration. We explore below how this follows the lead of the pioneers’ attorney, George H
Kohn, one of the authors of the January 1883 report to HEAS.
Taking one thing with another, we have to attach greater weight to Schwarz’ sequence. This assessment derives from
the contemporaneous character of Schwarz’ report and the involuntary evidence coming from a close reading, rather
than its ostensible argument. By contrast, Satt’s sequence is reliant on the hearsay of three elderly women, who at the
time of the events they were describing were either unborn or minors, in an era in which women played little part in
business. Those alive at the time were unable to speak English and all came from households removed from the centre
of events. Such first-hand recollections as they had would, moreover, have been contaminated by the refreshment of
family discussions during the following sixty-seven years.
Let us examine what the sequence falling out of Schwarz’ document would have led to in New York and Colorado. We
may take it that the Committee promptly penetrated Schwarz’ enthusiasms to dwell on his inconsistencies—four houses
built on p5 of his report vs eight on p11; financial imprecision—expenditures unbalanced with income and deficit unat-
tributed (Schwarz, p15); and prolonged irrelevance—four pages out of eighteen devoted to erroneous comments on irri-
gation (Schwarz, pp6-10).
The discrepancies in Schwarz’ report would have put the Committee on guard. Scant effort to detect the underlying con-
ditions inadvertently revealed by Schwarz’ report: no crops for immediate sale; no cash reserve plus mounting obliga-
tions; imperfect accommodation; and no provision to survive the winter. Neither Schwarz’ forensic skills nor his horti-
cultural show-and-tell would see off the tough questioning to be expected, causing him to reveal the whole story includ-
ing the colony’s uncovered obligations by way of store credit. Small wonder for the Society to become concerned that
Saltiel might hold them liable for the settlers’ debts. Their natural response would be to get him to stop further credit
and ensure the colonists’ self-sufficiency for the winter, by earning a livelihood from the employment which Schwarz
reports as readily to hand.

Slightly parenthetically, following the debacle of Schwarz’ report we hear no more of him; Satt makes no mention of
him after the summer and the subsequent dealings she reports were directly between the colonists and Saltiel. Pre-
sumably the crisis following Schwarz’ report led him to be dismissed as General Manager.

D—The legacy of bitterness

If this revisionist account of the colony is correct, we should give thought to the legacy of bitterness. A reasonable
judgement would be that it comes from seven sources: the accumulation of store credit; the clash of cultures between the
colonists and their new environment; the prevalence of conspiracy theories among Jewish refugees of the period; the condi-
tions of the winter of 1882-3; the negotiations of 1883; the distortions over time of oft-told tales; and the authority of Satt’s

Store credit
The colonists were keenly aware of the debts they were accumulating (Satt, op cit, p14; Schwarz, p16). We are able to offer
four approximations. First there is the testimony of Schwarz who writes of $1544.87 of expenditure of food in the first five
months of the colony (Schwarz, p15). This takes us to 8 October, excludes non-food expenditure and is low by comparison
with every other estimate. We may make a calculation from the 26 March 1884 edition of the Warsaw-based Hebrew news-
paper, Ha-Melitz. This contains an account of the Jewish agricultural colony of Alliance, New Jersey, which failed in 1883.
There, “the committee decided to allocate from $8 to $12 to each family, so they could live well and not sparingly” (Geffen,
page 7 of 28 in reproduced article). We may take it that this was a weekly stipend. If applied to the 22 families reported by
Satt, this becomes $4,620 over the twenty-one weeks from 8 May to 1 October 1882 (Satt, p29).

We reach higher figures if we attempt to work backwards from the earnings from the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad which
kept the colony in 1882 and 1883. These were between $2 and “up to $3” per day (Schwarz, op cit, p13; Satt, op cit, p26). Let
us take the mean of $2.50 over a six-day working week for 21 men to reflect Satt’s “almost all” of the 23 adult males (That is,
excluding Ed Grimes, who walked to Denver and Samuel Shradsky, “a very old man”, Satt, op cit, pp26, 29; Roberts, p130).
Over the 21 week period, this totals $6,615. The highest figure comes from the 25 November 1885 issue of Ha-Melitz, which

                                          Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

which reprinted a letter to Elijah Sholman by Mordecai Jalomstein, an American journalist who frequently served as a corre-
spondent to the newspaper. Jalomstein wrote that after his “intensive study” of “the reports which [had] reached him”, he
had learned that the Cotopaxi colony had “eaten up twenty thousand dollars.” If we subtract HEAS’ original budget of
$10,000 and the October 1883 settlement of $2,000, we are left with other expenditures, presumably on store credit, of
$8,000. The table below summarises the expenditures arising under these alternative assumptions.
                                                                      1           2        3             4        Notes
                      Travel from New York toColorado                1,250       1,250    1,250          1,250
                      Infrastructure at Cotopaxi                     8,750       8,750    8,750          8,750
                      Final settlement with colonists                2,000       2,000    2,000          2,000
                      Estimates of store credit
                        Scenario 1                                    1,555                                          1
                        Scenario 2                                               4,620                               2
                        Scenario 3                                                           6,615                   3
                        Scenario 4                                                                      8,000        4
                      Total                                         13,555     16,620      18,615     20,000
                      1. Figures from Schwarz (p15).
                      2. Based on weekly family stipend at the Vineland NJ colony, Geffen, Page 7 of 28
                      3. Based on the earnings of 21 adult males from the Denver and Rio Grande R/R; Schwarz, p13; Satt,, p26.
                      4 Deduction from total cited by Jalomsten; Geffen, p. 24 of 28.

This gives an estimating range (in round figures) between $1,500 and $8,000 for store credit, centring around $5,500; and
total obligations (also in round figures) of between $13,500 and $20,000, centring around $17,500. Sums of this kind would
be bound to add to the anxieties of the colonists.

Clash of cultures

We should also recognize how much the pioneers were at odds with their physical and cultural environment. They fell foul of
their neighbours, who grabbed the best land (Roberts, p127) and whose cattle trespassed upon and ate their crops (Schwarz,
p11; Roberts, p127; Satt, pp20, 24, 25), not to say whatever further depredations HS Henry was hinting at in his February
letter (RMJHN, p6). The settlers lacked familiarity with stock—the ox-team lost on arrival (Gulliford, para 5); the roam-
ing cattle of the Wet Mountain valley or game—the bears preparing for hibernation (Schwarz, p11; Roberts, p127; Satt,
p20); as well as the wherewithal to see off such threats as might be posed by begging tribesmen (Satt, p25). We detect
their distance from local mores in the attitude of the Rocky Mountain News which responded to the stories of the difficulties
at Cotopaxi by noting that “all pioneers must endure some hardship” (Satt, p27). The cultural clash extended to the colonists’
coreligionists. It is a commonplace of immigration that new arrivals have to contend with the suspicion of their predecessors.
Russian Jews certainly ran into this, with, for example, H S Henry making no secret of his impatience (RMHJN, p6). Nor
should we lose sight of the distance between the rugged individualism characteristic of America—in particular the frontier—
of the period, and the priority attaching to alms as a mitzvah, blessing, among traditional Jews.

Conspiracy theories

It is another commonplace that those feeling themselves powerless are prone to conspiracy theories. We find a contempora-
neous example in the lamentation of an anonymous colonist from Winnipeg. He wrote a letter, published in Ha-Melitz on
July 27 1882, the first summer of Cotopaxi.
    “Like an outcast, I sit looking towards the sky and I hear voices of [my fellow-colonists] weeping…‘Look how we were deceived by
    the people we trusted and who seemed to be concerned with our welfare. They have sent us to a desolate place as servants and
    maids to work for nothing for the local inhabitants…Why did they deceive us? Like sheep without a shepherd…we are bruised
    from top to bottom.’ ” (Geffen, op cit, pp22-24 of 28 in reproduced document).

If we hope that this unfortunate found his feet before the Manitoba winter set in, we need not take his bereft tone fully
to heart: those familiar with the Jewish literature of the period will recognize hyperbole of this kind as nothing out of
the ordinary. His tone anticipates the heartfelt remonstrances recalled by B Prezant and similar sentiments handed
down to us by the descendants of the Cotopaxi pioneers, which later writers—unfamiliar with the conventions of larger-
than-life idiom—took at face value.

                                                 The Cotopaxi Colony

More to the point, the content of the Winnipeg lamentation precisely foreshadows the protests of deceit and economic
exploitation, which come down to us from Cotopaxi. The striking similarity of the two instances of complaint suggests a
common source. They tell us that Jewish refugees all over North America at this time were given to view whatever mis-
adventures initially came their way through lenses distorted by rumours picked up on the Atlantic crossing or at Castle
Garden, the port of entry in New York—what we would now call urban myths.
The winter of 1882-83

Extravagance of expression is to the fore when we examine the conditions reported for the first winter. At first sight the
story is of unremitting hardship. The pioneers lost their crops to frost and the menaces of cattle, bears and begging
tribesmen (Schwarz, p11; Roberts, p127; Satt, pp20, 24, 25). Their cabins were meagre and lacked windows, doors and
chimneys (Satt, pp19, 24, 25). Some settlers resorted to cut-sod huts and an abandoned cave for shelter (Satt p22). One
settler swam a river in spate to obtain food for his starving family (RMHJN p2). In sum, the story presented is of iso-
lated and destitute pioneers. The setters were obliged to scavenge for coal and wood and benefited from charitable ship-
ments from Denver of “clothing, food, medicine and other necessities” Satt, p26), as well as $500 in cash (Roberts,
Much of this turns out to be exaggerated. First the underlying conditions: the Colorado winter would have been no nov-
elty for pioneers who came from what is now the Ukraine. If we compare the best data available for mid-winter from
the original region of the pioneers, Lviv, with that of the weather station closest to the colonists’ new home, Monarch
Pass, we see an mean February average of 25°F and a mean minimum of 8°F in the old country compared to 15°F and
12°F in the pass above the colonists’ new home. The high plateaus might have been more exposed than Monarch Pass,
but we know that many of the settlers planned to stay in the more sheltered elevations of Cotopaxi itself (Schwarz p12).
They evidently had no difficulty withstanding the climate in that all survived the first winter and several families elected
to stay for a second (Satt, p29).

The failed harvests were an undoubted disaster, but the pioneers’ clumsiness with the local fauna did them no favours,
whether stock—the ox-team lost on arrival (Gulliford para 5); the roaming cattle of the Wet Mountain valley (Schwarz,
p11; Roberts, p127; Satt, p20) or wild—the bears preparing for hibernation (Satt. p24). They also evidently lacked the
wherewithal to withstand such threat as might be posed by begging tribesmen (Satt p25). The stories of accommodation
attest to similar lack of the frontier spirit. As discussed above, the cabins followed the priority of satisfying the Home-
stead Acts and sufficed for hundreds of thousands over many decades; chimneys, windows and doors were a labour-
intensive affair to be completed by the occupants themselves or with luck the help of neighbours. Cut-sod huts were the
expedient for innumerable pioneers who would have counted themselves lucky to find abandoned caves for their first
winter on the great plains. The story of the river swim was disputed within a few days of its publication (RMJHN, p6).
The colonists should not have been destitute. They were able to earn cash from the Autumn (Schwarz, p13) and during
the winter almost all the adult men did so, earning between $2.00 and “up to $3.00” a day from the Denver and Rio
Grande Railroad (Schwarz, p13; Satt, p26). This should have been enough to keep pioneers with no obligations for rent;
the following winter a smaller group was able to cover its living expenses in this way (Satt, p28). Nor were the settlers
isolated: after August 1882 they were in continuous contact with the Jews of Denver, from whom they were obtaining
kosher meat (Schwarz, p13). Henry’s prompt and circumstantial rejoinder to Kohn & Wirkowski establishes that Coto-
paxi had a telegraph office, from which the colonists could make contact with their coreligionists in Denver without de-
lay and at will.

The charity from Denver was forthcoming in the first week of February 1883. We know this as it was unmentioned by
Kohn and Wirkowski in their report of 30 January, but reported in the Denver Tribune of 7 February 1883 (Roberts,
p129, n15). A delivery at this point combines with the stories of scavenging for fuel to suggest that despite their earnings
from the railroad, the colonists were on short rations for much of the first winter; possibly they had committed them-
selves to pay back their debt to the Cotopaxi store. Such sacrifices as arose would contribute to the legacy of bitterness.
Taking the matter in the round, however, we can see that the colonists’ sense of distress was extravagant, both abso-
lutely and by comparison to other pioneers of the period. Nonetheless, they saw themselves as so wretched as to have
suffered misuse and transmitted their sentiments to those who followed them.

                                       Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

Negotiations leading to the final settlement
So to the troublesome matter of the colonists’ financial position which was to consume nearly a year of negotiations. We
may see this by examining the next sequence of events.
         a.    Before 23 October 1882
               Colonists on generally good terms with the management of the colony
               Colonists acknowledge their debt to HEAS and expect to be in a position to repay
               Source: Schwarz, generally and p16.
         b.    Before 30 January 1883
               Colonists in dispute with the management of the colony
               Colonists no longer expect to pay their debt.
               Source: RMJHN; for expansion see below.
         c.    Late Summer 1883
               HEAS agrees to send the colonists a cash sum (received in October)
               (This reversed the former flow of liability, telling us that HEAS and
               Saltiel forgave the colonists their debt and mutually settled)
               Sources: Roberts, p130; Satt, p29.

To summarise, the position reversed from (a) where the colonists were to repay $10,000 to HEAS, to (b) where HEAS
actually paid a further $2,000 to the colonists. This can only have come from hard negotiation between the colonists
and HEAS, complicated by the presence of a third-party, Saltiel, to whom the colonists also owed money.
The correspondence between Kohn & Wirkowski and H S Henry, the President of HEAS, is best seen as the second
round of the colonists’ campaign. The first was the settlers’ appeal to HEAS for “aid and counsel in how to regain their
lost money” (Satt, p25). As they had expended only filing fees on land they were still occupying, we may take it that
HEAS dismissed this out of hand. Presumably, however, this appeal also conveyed to HEAS the unwelcome news that
the pioneers no longer considered themselves bound to repay the $10,000 defrayed by HEAS on their behalf, let alone
the credit they had run up at Saltiel’s store, between the $1,545 disclosed by Schwarz (p15) and the $8,000 reported by
Jalomstein’s as discussed above.

At more or less this time, the settlers made their position known to the Denver community, from whom they had been
buying kosher meat since August (Schwarz, p13; Roberts p129; Satt, p26) and with whom there were able to make tele-
graph contact (see the discussion of Henry’s prompt response to Kohn & Wirkowski above). Kohn & Wirkowski then
visited the colony. The record shows that Kohn took the settlers under his wing; in effect they became his clients, either
on a contingent basis or pro bono as they had no cash to ante up.

Kohn launched the second round of the settlers’ campaign with the report he drew up with Wirkowski, which was dated
30 January, sent to HEAS on 5 February, and published in the Denver Tribune on 7 February (all 1883). There then fol-
lowed a campaign in the Denver Republican, who characterised the settlement as a “vile atrocity” and spoke harshly of
Saltiel (Satt, p27). Even so, at this point Kohn’s tack with HEAS was to more to talk up the colonists’ hardship than to
rubbish the conception or management of the colony, with his report to HEAS dwelling on the pioneers’ financial and
physical predicament.

These developments put Henry and HEAS in a spot. Henry presided over a charity which had solicited funds on the ba-
sis that they were to be loaned to pioneers, not tendered as out-and-out grants. His comments about the mendicant
character of the Russian immigrant—so grating to modern ears—may be seen not merely as a piece of stereotyping, but
as a confirmation that by the time of his letter the colonists had signalled their intention to defect from their obligations
and an understandable reflection of his chagrin. In any event, his reply of 15 February 1883 dismissed Kohn &
Wirkowski's report as hyperbole, so the second round of the settlers’ campaign came to nought. The settlers and their
attorney, Kohn, now faced a tactical dilemma. In order to achieve their negotiating objectives, they had to get Henry
and HEAS to overcome their scruples about the basis on which moneys had been furnished. We lack a full record of
what then took place, but there was evidently a prompt third round of approaches. Satt writes that the settlers renewed
their pleas in the spring (p27), but on 2 March 1883, HEAS wrote back counselling patience and fortitude (Satt, p27;
Oswald p26). By the late summer, however, HEAS had reversed its position, abandoning its claim on the pioneers and
agreeing to send them a further $2,000, with funds delivered in October 1883 (Satt, p28).

                                                  The Cotopaxi Colony

What occurred by way of the fourth or whatever subsequent rounds of negotiation took place over the following few
months? Although the full record is unavailable, we may find a couple of clues from such documents as are available for
study. The first is the early 1883 stance of the Denver Republican, where the management of the colony was severely
criticized (Satt, p27). The second is the letter by Mordecai Jalomstein reprinted in Ha-Melitz in November 1885. In
this, Jalomstein recalled letters “which the colonists wrote with tears in their eyes” directly to him, showing that their
campaign extended to the opinion-formers of the day (Geffen, p24 of 28). These examples tell us that Kohn must have
changed his approach to attack the operation and very idea of the colony as forcefully and as widely as he could. His
purpose would be to persuade Henry that HEAS and Saltiel were so implicated in the settlement’s failure as to justify
writing off $10,000 and paying out a further $2,000; meanwhile HEAS and Saltiel had to come to a parallel settlement.
As we know, Kohn succeeded. We may take it that even if he didn’t deliberately set out to make Saltiel the fall-guy, he
would hardly have exerted himself to shield Saltiel’s reputation from the crossfire. The folklore of Saltiel’s perfidy was
then embellished by sixty-seven years of kitchen gossip before being passed on to Satt.

Embellishment of the record
Let us examine an example from the written record. In January 1882, Kohn and Wirkovski reported that “One of the
colonists…planted four bags of potatoes [and] gathered as a return fifteen bags…” (RMJHN, p1). Fifty-nine years later
Roberts wrote in the Colorado Magazine, “Zedek…sowed fourteen bags (of potatoes) and reaped in return fif-
teen” (Roberts, p127). Twenty-nine years after that, the Pueblo Chieftain printed a story headlined “Jewish Immigrants
Victims of Hoax”, reporting that, “The new settlers…plant[ed] 14 bags of potatoes [and] harvested 15.” It is instructive
to note how this anecdote became inflated over eighty-eight years from the experience of one colonist to that of the col-
ony as a whole and from a poor yield of 3.75:1 to a disaster of 1.07:1. Our discovery of the fallibility of Satt’s oral sources
reinforces this aspect of the matter.

Satt’s authority

Finally, we are bound to recognise the authority of Satt’s work. In her 1950 Master’s thesis, she developed an account of
the colony which is vivid, cogent, elegant, comprehensive and extensively sourced. The very drama of her central theses,
that Saltiel plotted to engineer a pool of sweated labour and that he and Schwarz deceived HEAS, makes for good copy
and strong feeling. Her work has become the principal source for the descendants of the colonists and historians of the
settlement, unchallenged until the examination of sources in this appendix.

This review of sources enable us to derive conclusions which fits the facts as now brought to light—not to say our under-
standing of the way of the world—far better than Flora Jane Satt’s forlorn notion of a charitable enterprise conducted in
the full light of day, intended by its promoter to fail so as to create a pool of sweated labour.
So, what to conclude? First, the descendants of the colonists have no reason to feel that anything is taken from the dig-
nity of their story by the information now at hand. The Cotopaxi colony was an ordeal for their forbears, with an out-
come which does them great credit: they went on to triumph over adversity in the New World. The settlement was pat-
ently mislocated, though we also need to take account of the general climate of agricultural euphoria, the pressures im-
posed upon HEAS by the coincident torrent of refugees from Russia, the lack of working capital in the colony’s budget,
the apparent changes of plan from at least some element of stock-raising to pure horticulture, the inexperience of the
colonists, and the failure of all such schemes in the U.S. Saltiel has left us no record of his motives, but we no longer
need to see him as a deliberate villain in order to make sense of the history of the Cotopaxi colony. Far more likely that
he, like HEAS, like Schwarz, like the colonists themselves, ardently believed in the scheme and took no satisfaction in
its failure. With the new sources available to us, we are in a position to recognise such lines as Schwarz’s duplicity, co-
erced labour, lost rebates and overpriced infrastructure as the result of all too humanly imperfect recall, lacunae in the
record, and mistaken readings of such documents as were to hand. In addition we are in a position to explain the legacy
of bitterness as rooted in the conspiracy theories of the day, the financial predicament of the colonists and the tough ne-
gotiations—dimly discernable from the imperfect record—which freed them from their obligations. In sum, Flora Jane
Satt’s thesis—however compelling—no longer holds water and we are entitled to discard it.

                      Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

                                 Appendix Two—Timeline
    Date                                      Event                                  Source
     1871         Collapse of Jewish agricultural colony in Ekaterinaslav.           Satt, p10

     1878         Saltiel files on 200o acres and mining rights in Cotopaxi.         Satt, p6-7

                  Jacob Milstein leaves Brest-Litovsk for New York City.             Satt, p11

 19 Sept 1880     Saltiel writes to Heilprin offering land for a Jewish colony.      Satt, p14;
                                                                                    Satt, II, n27
   Jan 1881       Schwarz leaves New York to investigate Saltiel’s offer.            Satt, p17
                  (This contradicted by H.S Henry who says Schwarz left
                  with the colonists the following year.)
     May          Repressive edicts usher in Russian pogroms.                        Satt, p15

   October        Saltiel reports to HEAS that 20 houses are finished.               Satt, p19
  Late 1881       Colonists arrive in New York, where they live in tenements         Satt, p17
                  through the winter.
                  Each family group subscribes $50 filing fee for home-            Satt, pp18, 28
  April 1882      First group of colonists leave for Colorado.                       Satt, p17

    8 May         First group of fifty colonists arrive at Cotopaxi after five       Satt, p18
                  days rail journey.                                               Roberts p125
                                                                                    Schwarz p2
     May          Colonists inspect farmsteads finding twenty lots and               Satt, p19
                  twelve cabins, no wells, fences or road.

                  Alternatively Schwarz allocates fourteen lots and               Schwarz pp 3-4
                  identifies nine others.

                  Colonists protest to Saltiel about deficiencies.                   Satt, p20

Mid to late May   Colonists manhandle possessions to plateau after losing            Satt, p21;
                  ox-team.                                                        Gulliford Para 5

                  Colonist permitted to borrow plough, horses, seeds and             Satt, p21
                  other equipment.

                  Colonists run out of cash; credit extended from store.             Satt, p21

                  First settlement established.
                                                                                   Schwarz p10
                  Water rights appropriated and cultivable acreage claimed
                  by neighbours.                                                   Roberts p127

    27 May        Nudelman child dies                                               Schwarz p4
    1 June        Land cleared for first planting of corn and potatoes.              Satt, p22

                  Alternatively fourteen thousand pounds of potatoes               Schwarz p10
                  planted on communal property.

    6 June        Unnamed baby born                                                 Schwarz p6
                  Three children die.                                                Satt, p22

  Mid June        Additional couple, the Milsteins, join group.                      Satt, p22
   23 June        Synagogue dedicated.                                               Satt, p23
    16 July       Lauterstein family arrive (unknown number of persons).            Schwarz p6

                                                  The Cotopaxi Colony

     Date                                                  Event                                          Source
    30 July         Moscowitz family leaves colony for Denver (unknown number of persons).              Schwarz p5
   Beginning        Supply of Kosher meat from Denver.                                                  Schwarz p13
   29 August        Three families (fourteen persons) arrive.                                           Schwarz p5
   August or        Further(?) planting.                                                              Gulliford para 6
   Beginning        Arrival of cows and calves for milk.                                                Schwarz p13
     Before         Some colonists work in mines, presumably Saltiel’s; Schwarz arranges work for       Schwarz p13
   23 October       colonists at the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.
                    Crops eaten by cattle.                                                               Satt, p20;
                                                                                                        Roberts p127
                                                                                                        Schwarz p11
   23 October       Schwarz sends positive report to HEAS.                                             HEAS records
After 23 October    Store credit brought to an end; early frost; potato crop fails; bears menace          Satt, p24
                    Colonists appeal to Saltiel for release of funds                                 ditto; Roberts p129

 Winter 1882/3      Colonists appeal to HEAS for “aid and counsel in how to regain their lost             Satt, p25
                    money”; Ute Indians menace settlers; some colonists work in Saltiel’s mine for
                    Ed Grimes walks to Denver for work.                                                Roberts p130
                    Thereafter nearly all other men work on Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.               Satt, p26
     Before         Millstein (first name unknown) and Kropetzski (a.k.a. Korpitzki or Korpitsky)      Roberts p129
30 January 1882     sent by colony to Denver Jews, who send attorney George H Kohn and shop-         RMJHN, op cit, p2
                    keeper Louis Wirkowski to investigate conditions.
30 January 1882     Kohn and Wirkowski conclude draft of report.                                     RMJHN op cit , p2
5 February 1882     Kohn and Wirkowski’s report sent to HEAS covered by letter from Mr Silver of       ditto; Satt, p26
Between 30 Jan      Denver Jews send blankets, food medical supplies and $500 to colonists              Satt, p26;
and 7 Feb 1883                                                                                         Roberts p129
                                                                                                     RMJHN, op cit, p2
7 February 1883     Kohn/Wirkowski report published in Denver Tribune                                     ditto p1

15 February 1883    HEAS rejects the Kohn/Wirkowski report.                                             ditto p6
                                                                                                     RMJHN op cit , p6
Before the spring   Reporters visit colony. Denver Republican attacks Saltiel.                           Satt, p 26
  Spring 1883       Passover; colonists borrow seed and sow second crop, destroyed by late                Satt, p27
                    blizzard; colonists write again to HEAS
 2 March 1883       HEAS reply, counselling patience and fortitude.                                  ditto; Oswald p26.
 Late summer        HEAS send “second letter”, promising cash for resettlement.                           Satt, p28
    October         HEAS send settlers $2,000 for resettlement.                                           Satt, p29
                    Alternatively HEAS provides $100 per family.                                       Roberts p130
                    Several families leave Cotopaxi.                                                      Satt, p29
 Winter 1883/4      Remaining families get through winter by working at neighbouring mines and              ditto
                    on the railroad.
  Spring 1884       Second Passover celebrated by colonists.                                                ditto
                    All but six families leave.
Late spring 1884    Crop destroyed by late blizzard.                                                   Satt, pp29-30
                    Final six families abandon site after visiting land office in Cañon City.               ditto

                                   Flora Jane Satt—annotated by Miles Saltiel

                                 Appendix Three—Summary of allegations
Allegation Saltiel promoted the colony to boost the area.                                         Source Roberts, p127
Comment Presumably Roberts meant that Saltiel was contemplating speculation in real estate, but after his initial
claim there is no evidence that Saltiel was dealing in local lands.

Allegation Saltiel promoted the colony to engineer a pool of cheap labour.                     Source Satt, pp7, 25, 33
Comment At least seventeen months elapsed between Saltiel’s initial letter in 1880 and the arrival of the settlers in
May 1882, a prolonged period for scheme alleged to be intended to cure an acute shortage of labour. The mine took up
only some of the labour represented by the colonists (Roberts, pp127-8).The colonists were free to work elsewhere
and did so (Satt, p25; Roberts p128), indeed Schwarz arranged work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for as
many colonists as might seek it before 23 October, if that was the date of his report (Schwarz p13).

Allegation Saltiel exaggerated the attractions of the site.                               Source Satt, pp14, 18, 19, 20
Comment True, but Saltiel’s failings should be seen within the context of the climate of the times. Schwarz’ report of
October 1882 makes it clear that agricultural euphoria was the order of the day. Colorado alone saw two such at-
tempts: the first at Cotopaxi and the second ten years later at Attwood, the latter failing despite an excellent location.
Satt, presents further examples on page 32. The historians of Jewish agricultural colonies in the U.S., Spivak & Mor-
riss, wrote:
         “…for reasons inscrutable, most of the colonies were planted on land which was unfit for cultivation.”
         Cited in Uchill, Op. cit., p176 in original.
All miss a larger point. The lands at that time opening up in the high plains were less suited for farming than for
stock-raising, though this counted for little against the agricultural utopianism at that time bewitching decision-
makers. This was an era of exceptional credulousness in agricultural matters. It was at just this point in the nineteenth
century that the steamship and railroad were opening up the vast tracts of land in North America, Argentina and the
Antipodes to European settlers. This development promised to satisfy the land hunger of the Old World once and for
all and promoted an unprecedented euphoria which came wholly to taint contemporary judgement on the opportuni-
ties of the frontier.
Thus, the settlement of the high plains and other arid regions of the American West in the last two decades of the
nineteenth century was promoted by Charles Dana Wilber’s disastrous doctrine that “rain follows the plow”, leading
countless would-be farmers to ruin. Notions of this kind contributed to the general lack of understanding on the part
of city-dwellers of the distinction between lands suitable for agriculture and for stock-raising.

Allegation Saltiel provided inadequate infrastructure and overcharged for it.               Source Satt, pp19, p20, 24
Comment The cabins and surrounding infrastructure evidently fell short of expectations but Saltiel’s plea of lack of
labour makes sense. It also seems that plans had altered: Saltiel’s original offer included cattle, horses, wagons and a
year’s supply of feed for the animals (Satt, p14), but when the colonists came to inspect their arrangements, their com-
ments disregarded such issues (Satt, p20). It sounds as though all concerned had settled upon crops rather than
stock—disastrous given the area. After the settlers lost their oxen, Saltiel’s partners did lend ploughs, horses and seed
(Satt, p21). It is impossible to price the cabins from the information about ex-sawmill lumber provided by Satt (p25),
as it is unclear how wide the standard board was, and the cost of transport and labour is not taken into account.

Allegation Saltiel cut off credit officiously or with                                                 Source Satt, p24
a view to coerce the settlers to work in his mine.
Comment There is nothing to suggest heartlessness in Saltiel’s response to the settlers’ representations on arrival at
Cotopaxi. To the contrary, the record states that he was apologetic and that although he had shortly to leave on a busi-
ness trip, he instructed his store to furnish supplies to the pioneers without payment. This is hardly the stuff of mis-
conduct; indeed it was the colonists’ lifeline. In the absence of budget for the purpose, the supplies which kept the pio-
neers alive could only have come on credit granted by Saltiel’s store. Schwarz claimed that Saltiel had expended all of
HEAS funds by the end of October 1882. For all that Saltiel had received advances from HEAS, with estimates that he
had in turn advanced credit of between $1,545 and $8,000 to the colonists. Finally, Appendix 1 establishes that the
settlers were working in a mine, presumably Saltiel’s, before credit was cut off.
Allegation Saltiel failed to provide rebates due to the colonists.                     Source Satt, p24, Roberts p129
Comment Saltiel would have been unable conscientiously to release cash to the settlers directly. The settlers might
well feel themselves entitled to a grubstake and eventually they got one, but common sense tells us that a claim
against Saltiel was bound to fail. Any rebate would have first to take account of advances and would then be attribut-
able not to the colonists but to the source of the money, HEAS, to whom Saltiel was indeed to return funds.

                                                      The Cotopaxi Colony

The lack of foundation to the settlers’ grievances is attested by Satt herself: “...a thorough search of Colorado court
records indicate that no action was ever initiated against Saltiel by any of the Jewish colonists or interested
agencies.” (Satt, I, n19). This is a telling omission in a notably litigious society—Satt refers to the “bitter legal battles”
of the Royal Gorge Wars on page 2 and Denver’s Jewish community sent an attorney, George H Kohn, to investigate
the colony (Roberts, op cit p129). We may take it that Kohn would not have hesitated to take Saltiel to law if he felt it
served his clients’ purposes.

Allegation Saltiel’s mine underpaid the settlers and only in scrip.                                             Source Satt, p25
Comment The rate for the work arranged by Schwarz at the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was $2.00 a day in
cash (Schwarz: p13). Saltiel’s mine paid the pioneers $1.50 a day, according to Bill Jones of the Silverton Mine & Mu-
seum, the going rate for the unskilled “muckers” or labourers which they presumably were. Jones made no mention of
a night rate. All of these were premium rates: at around this time the adolescent Ed Grimes accepted $1.00 per day in
Denver. Dr Abrams of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society has asserted that the colonists were underpaid,
by comparison with the $3.30 going rate for experienced miners whose work called for the use of explosives. It is no
villainy but plain common sense that would-be farmers from Russia should have been kept from the use of dynamite
until they had learned the ropes. Grievances turning on this aspect of their treatment say little for the judgement of
the pioneers.
If settlers were paid in scrip, we should remember that they owed a tidy sum to Saltiel. Scrip was also an unsatisfac-
tory commonplace throughout the West of the period. Rapid economic expansion coincided with the lack of a Federal
central bank to give rise to an acute shortage of legal tender in the West for decades on end. Students of the period
will recall that this led to fierce political contention, with Eastern creditors arguing for a tight gold-backed currency
and Western borrowers arguing for a loose silver-based system, as articulated by William Jennings Bryant’s famous “I
will not see this nation crucified on a cross of gold”. But these were hardly conditions of Saltiel’s making.

Allegation The locations or the titles attaching to the farmsteads were engineered by Saltiel to serve his purposes.
Comment This is not so much a specific allegation as the accumulation of various critical comments, as follows.
The farmsteads were poorly located (Satt, p19, Roberts pp126, 127). In retrospect we can see that this is right—
after all, the colony failed. Notwithstanding Schwarz’ euphoria, he seems to have taken care in allocating lots (pp3-5)
and we should take account of the depredations of neighbours upon land and water rights (Roberts p127), the appar-
ent alteration from stock-raising or mixed farming to vegetables (see comment about infrastructure above), the agri-
cultural over-ambition of the times, and the failure of all such schemes (Satt, p32, Spivak and Morris, Op. cit).
No deeds were executed for the colonists’ holdings Four conflicting stories come down to us: Schwarz reports
that Colorado law provides that colonists could only register claims after occupying and improving them (p5). Satt in-
dicates that Saltiel was to act as the colonists’ agent and file for freehold title to Government land (p8, p19, p28); Rob-
erts is more circumstantial in writing that “the houses were erected upon land claimed by the Cotopaxi Placer Mining
Company and it was represented by Saltiel, a director of the company, that the colonists had forty-nine year leases”.
Roberts cites no source, but both Satt and Jalomstein entertain something similar: the former speculates that the
colonists were de facto tenants of Saltiel (Satt, p29); the latter writes that after the colonists left Cotopaxi, “their friends
had the responsibility of selling the land.” (Geffen, p24 of 28 in reproduced article). Neither comment is intelligible:
long leases presumably gratis—would have imposed no immediate liabilities ; clear—even freehold—titles would have
had no commercial value, with local land at that time de facto free, the plots would not have been negotiable for sale to
third parties or as collateral for loans. In any event, the whole point of Satt’s thesis is that these particular plots turned out to
be worthless. Both Roberts and Satt agree that no deeds were executed (Satt, p28-29; Roberts p127); Satt, points out
that HEAS concluded that the title issue was too complicated and remote for them to resolve (p28). So is it for us.
The farmsteads were placed on land belonging to Saltiel or his company. (Satt, p29, Roberts p127).
Schwarz was evidently surprised to discover other occupiers (Schwarz p4), but it is not clear why this matters, in that
there is no suggestion that adjacent plots would have been more fertile, better irrigated or closer to markets.
The colonists were virtual serfs of Saltiel Only Armstrong makes this suggestion, which may be rejected as hy-
perbole. Nothing in the record supports such a view.
The colonists believed they had to redeem their deeds before quitting the colony This notion—also singu-
lar to Armstrong—is not so much an allegation against Saltiel, as a new twist to the account of the colonists’ miseries. I
take it as an attempt to make sense of Satt’s comment about titles on p29, following the story of the visit to the land
office in Cañon City by the last group of colonists to leave Cotopaxi (Satt, p28-9). It can be safely dismissed. The colo-
nists were businesspeople and former proprietors, not illiterate rustics. After Autumn 1882, they were in sufficient
contact with the Jews of Denver and their attorney, Mr Kohn, for any such notions to be dispelled. In Autumn 1883
the colonists negotiated a final settlement with HEAS, presumably benefiting from the counsel of Kohn or another at-
torney. This relieved the pioneers of any obligations to Saltiel as well as to HEAS itself. Good practice would ensure an
exchange of indemnities so that all concerned could put the episode behind them. Finally, the record shows several
groups of colonists leaving Cotopaxi at will after the October settlement, with no evidence of reluctance (Satt, p29).


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