Jessup’s hard work adds to valley
“I just started out and kept on coming for no reason at all. I kept on going until I got to Leadville.” – Interview with H.C. Jessup, February 16, 1934 In his later years, Henry Clay Jessup could not recall any particular reason for his coming to Colorado. Born in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1865, he began his trip westward as a young man. He first settled in Western Kansas, then drifted into Colorado by way of Pueblo. Next, he traveled to Salida, Buena Vista, and finally to Leadville.The year of his Leadville arrival was 1896. The town, built initially on the fortunes of silver mining, was reeling from a depression caused by silver’s devaluation three years before. Henry Jessup sized up the employment opportunities and was encouraged by many to stay until the fall. After all, there was hope that William Jennings Bryan would win the U.S. Presidential election, and that the valuation of silver, per Bryan’s promises, would be restored. Leadville would boom again. Jessup saw no chance for Bryan’s election, and decided to keep moving on. His continued movement westward brought him to Carbondale, where potato farming was booming.Fortune truly existed in Carbondale for a man willing to put forth hard work. Jessup’s first job was hauling logs from Mount Sopris. He also transported coal from the nearby mines to Carbondale. But just as Henry Jessup’s feet began to itch again for a move westward, a business opportunity called.For $15,000, Henry Jessup purchased a Carbondale livery stable from Ward Tucker. For his money, he got a barn, property, and some wagons. Jessup had to independently purchase stock to make the business a go. However, he landed a profitable contract with the Colorado Midland Railroad to transport baggage and passengers from their depot, located one mile from Carbondale, into town. After 1900, Jessup’s teams hauled the lumber used in the construction of the houses built in the new town of Redstone. Jessup retired from the livery business in 1903 after amassing a $10,000 profit from the venture.Now a man nearing 40 years of age, Henry Jessup took up farming. His name is attached to the Sweet-Jessup Canal near Carbondale, a project designed to open acres of arid land to cultivation. Civic-minded, he would later serve as Garfield County Commissioner, and twice as Garfield County Sheriff.A humble obituary marked the passing of Henry Clay Jessup in 1943. However, for a man drifting into Colorado, he eventually put down roots and made a significant contribution to the settlement of Garfield County.
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