Saturday, August 21, 2010

This Jamison Story Needs to be Told

 Jamison Block Cripple Creek

At 246 E. Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek, Colorado stands the “Jamison Block”, seen in the photo above at right. It currently is the home of the Rocky Mountain Canary General Store, offering souvenirs and gift items. A plaque mounted on the front of the red brick building says “Jamison Block, Cripple Creek Colorado, 1896. Samuel Jamison leased this building to the Hooper Jewelry Company from 1896-1916. A 1900 ad stated Hoopers offered stationery, souvenirs, jewelry, books, film, cards and Kodaks.” The inventory hasn’t changed much since then!

My husband has related the story to me that his great grandparents traveled  from Marion County, West Virginia in the late 1800s to Cripple Creek on the “Wildflower Express” to visit relatives there. Recently I’ve been researching many Samuel Jamisons, both in my husband’s ancestry and in non-related Jamison families to determine the exact identity of THIS Samuel Jamison, owner of the Jamison Block in Cripple Creek (Teller County, Colorado). Since Larry’s great grandparents traveled all the way across the country to the mountains of Colorado by rail in the late 1800s we’ve assumed they were coming to visit family. My research of the past week so far doesn’t bear that out, however.

Last week Larry & I made a trip to the El Paso County Clerk’s office in Colorado Springs, where the land records are stored for Teller County prior to  1900. We found warranty deeds for property purchased by John Jamison of Philadelphia, PA in May, 1896 and sold to his brother Samuel Jamison in Dec. 1896.

CrippleCreekFire1896 April

This photo shows a fire that destroyed much of Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek in May, 1896. You can read more about this time in the history of Cripple Creek here. A future trip to the Assessor’s office will hopefully shed more light on the property involved.

Our interest was picqued as we read of the land transactions involving both a “John” and a brother “Samuel” Jamison. Larry’s great, great grandfather William “Thompson” Jamison had a brother (Maj.) Samuel Shryock Jamison who had sons named John Clark Jamison and Samuel Stewart Jamison. John Clark Jamison was an insurance agent, war hero, railroad developer and canal builder in Philadelphia in the late 1800s who had another brother Benton Knott Jamison, who owned a large bank in Philadelphia at that time. So Larry & I have been hoping the owner of the “Jamison Block” in Cripple Creek might have been Samuel Stewart Jamison. The time period, the locations, and the business interests all fit.

In my research last week I found a document online that made reference to a court case involving a Samuel Jamison who owned a house in Cripple Creek, resided in Pennsylvania and filed his will in PA, but whose will was also filed in Teller County in 1939, long after his death. As a result of my phone calls this past week to the Teller County Clerk and the Denver Archives (where I learned the 1939 Teller County wills are stored) I got a copy of the will of this Samuel Jamison.

The details in the will revealed the names of Samuel’s maternal grandparents: John and Catherine Nice. As I dug deeper online last night I determined the parents of Samuel Jamison were John and Deborah Nice Jamison. He’s NOT the Samuel Stewart Jamison who’s a cousin of my husband Larry. He’s not even descended from the same Jamison ancestors.

But my research on this name has not ended. There’s still the story that Larry’s great grandparents, Robert and Clara Jamison, traveled to Cripple Creek to visit relatives oh so long ago. Besides the family story, Larry says they were identified in a photo on display at one time in the Cripple Creek Museum.

I must share with you some of the details I learned last night about this Samuel Jamison’s life. His mother [Deborah (Mrs. John) Nice Jamison] died in February 1905 in Philadelphia. Samuel lived with his single sister Jane Jamison and they made out their wills one day apart: Samuel’s is dated 2 Mar 1905 and Jane’s was dated 3 Mar 1905. I found quite a lot of legal information about each of them on Google Books. But the real treasure came when I found the articles below. They’re heartbreaking, but quite interesting.

Jamison Samuel and Jane Suicide

Jamison Samuel suicide

How sad. My research continues, but I hope I don’t discover any more stories like these in any of the Jamison families.

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