Bert Weaver was ‘the best and fairest assessor the county ever had’
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The tax assessor with his book is here
Taxes are high now – why I can’t buy beer
– New Castle News, May 25, 1895
In May 1893, The Avalanche newspaper published a special edition highlighting the major industries, businesses and people who contributed greatly to the prosperity of Garfield County. In this edition, they noted, “There is possibly no public office calling for such a display of tact and careful forbearance as that of county assessor.” This opening statement began the biographical sketch of Garfield County Assessor W.B “Bert” Weaver.
Weaver was born in 1853 in Wisconsin and educated in New York. After working in a grocery store, he headed west. By 1884 he was working as a ranch foreman on Roan Creek. Bert, however, had political aspirations.
With an honest demeanor and positive personality, Weaver, a Republican, easily won the office of Garfield County assessor in the November 1891 elections. While in office he spent many hours personally assessing the more-than-2,900 square miles of Garfield County. The Avalanche newspaper wrote, “[Weaver] registers kicks on the part of property owners and grapples with the science of assessments. … He is the possessor of natural tact that smoothes over the difficulties that arise in the fulfillment of his ungrateful position.”
In 1893, Weaver’s office was hit with a great challenge. A national depression created in part by speculative railroad overbuilding, runs on banks, and the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act severely impacted the economic means of every American. Taxation, naturally, was unpopular.
With the upcoming county election in November 1893, the populist People’s Herald newspaper of Glenwood Springs threw the first mud of the election at Assessor Weaver. The newspaper charged Weaver of assessing lots owned by the Colorado Land and Improvement Co. at a substantially lesser rate than adjoining lots owned by other parties. The Colorado Land and Improvement Co. owned not only the property occupied by Glenwood Springs’ Hotel Colorado, but lots adjoining the hotel, and property in New Castle.
A review of the assessments showed that not a single lot owned by the Colorado Land and Improvement Co. was assessed at a lower rate.
“Because a corporation is a corporation is no fair reason why it should be used as a scape-goat. … Neither should rash and unfair assertions be made against the integrity of a public official merely to produce political effect,” wrote the New Castle News.
Weaver won a second term of office in the November 1893 elections. In 1894, with the depression deepening and property valuations sharply declining, the Garfield County Board of Commissioners reduced Weaver’s salary from $7 per day to $5.50 per day.
The election of November 1895 found Weaver vying for the position of Garfield County treasurer. In a hotly contested race, Weaver lost to his opponent, Sam Eubanks, by 5 votes. Weaver alleged illegal votes had been cast and accepted in Eubanks’ favor, but a court decision ruled against Weaver.
Weaver, upon his departure as assessor, was described as “the best and fairest assessor the county ever had.” In 1903 he and his wife Mattie moved to Vernal, Utah, where he died on March 17, 1925.
Not surprisingly, Weaver was known in Vernal as a friend to all.
Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.
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