1860 – Professor O. J. Goldrick opens Denver Union School

Professor O.J. Goldrick

TODAY, PROFESSOR O.J. GOLDRICK OPENED THE DENVER UNION SCHOOL, OFFERING TO EDUCATE ALL OF DENVER’S CHILDREN. HE, AND FELLOW TEACHER MISS MILLER, ARE BOTH ACCOMPLISHED AND WELL QUALIFIED TEACHERS AND SHOULD MEET WITH LIBERAL ENCOURAGEMENT IN THEIR UNDERTAKING. SEND YOUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL!

Read in PDF Format: Professor O.J. Goldrick opens Denver Union School

LAST SUMMER, PROFESSOR O.J. GOLDRICK CAUSED QUITE A STIR WHEN HE ARRIVED IN THE CHERRY CREEK SETTLEMENTS DRIVING A TEAM OF TWO OXEN AND DRESSED IN SPOTLESS WHITE LINEN, A PRINCE ALBERT COAT, AND FASHIONABLY TIGHT, STRIPED TROUSERS. AS HE PULLED HIS TEAM TO A STOP IN FRONT OF THE DENVER HOUSE, TOWNSFOLK STARED AT THE HIGH-BUTTON GAITERS COVERING HIS GLOSSY SHOES, HIS BLACK SILK STOVEPIPE HAT COCKED JAUNTILY OVER ONE EYE, AND THE SOFT KID GLOVES ON HIS HANDS.

Professor Goldrick Arrives in Denver, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 17, 1879

SUCH ELEGANCE PROMPTED ONE GRUBBY ONLOOKER TO ASK, “WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE, STRANGER?”

GOLDRICK LEANED ON THE LONG BUTT OF HIS BULLWHIP AND RESPONDED, “MAJURA VERUM IRITIA; AURI SACRA FAMES.”

“SOUNDS DERN PURTY,” YELLED SOMEONE IN THE CROWD THAT HAD GATHERED AROUND HIM, “BUT WHAT THE HELL KINDA TRIBE TALK IS THAT?”

“I AM GLAD TO ANSWER YOU, MY KIND SIR,” THE NEWCOMER RESPONDED IN A STRONG IRISH DRAWL, BOWING TO HIS AUDIENCE. “THAT IS LATIN AND IT MEANS, ‘THE BEGINNING OF GREATER THINGS, THIS ACCURSED THIRST FOR GOLD.’ FOR YOU SEE, SIR, I HAVE COME TO MINE GOLD.” BUT AS WE SOON LEARNED, PROFESSOR GOLDRICK LOVED CHILDREN AND THE GOLD HE PLANNED TO MINE WAS THEIR MINDS.

DENVER HAD NEVER SEEN SUCH A DANDY AND THE DAY OF HIS ARRIVAL, HE STROLLED THROUGH TOWN WITH AN AIR SO LORDLY THAT PEOPLE THOUGHT HE MIGHT BUY THE TOWN. HIS FLAIR FOR SHOWMANSHIP SOON EARNED HIM THE NAME “THE PROFESSOR” AND OUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER WROTE: “PROFESSOR GOLDRICK, THE ADONIS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, WEARS THE BEST CLOTHES, SMOKES THE FINEST CIGARS, LOOKS THE MOST A MILLIONAIRE ON THE STREET, AND ENJOYS WHAT THERE IS IN LIFE. STOCKS MAY GO UP; GOVERNORS MAY GO DOWN, BUT GOLDRICK GOES ON FOREVER.”

URGED BY CITY FATHERS TO FOLLOW HIS PASSION, HE FOUNDED A SCHOOL, WORKING WITH OUR OWN AUNT CLARA BROWN. THIS FIRST SCHOOL WAS IN HIS SOD-ROOFED CABIN AT 12TH AND MARKET. DAILY HE DROVE AROUND TOWN, COLLECTING HIS STUDENTS IN HIS WAGON, CHARGING JUST $3 PER MONTH. HIS ADVERTISEMENT IN THE SEPTEMBER 29TH, 1859 ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS WEEKLY READ:

AIMING TO EDUCATE BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN, HE HELPED START THE FIRST LIBRARY IN THE COLORADO TERRITORY. BOTH POMPOUS AND ALOOF, THIS YOUNG IRISHMAN IS SAVED FROM BEING INSUFFERABLE THROUGH HIS SENSE OF HUMOR. SINCE HIS ARRIVAL, MORE THAN A FEW HAVE OFFERED TO “BEAT THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF HIM,” BUT HIS FRIENDS SAY HIS PROPHET’S VOICE CONTAINS A TOUCH OF THE COMIC WHICH KEEPS THEM SUSPENDED BETWEEN LAUGHTER AND RESPECTFUL AWE.

DENVER LOOKS FORWARD, WITH SOME TREPIDATION, TO WHAT THIS YOUNG MAN WILL ACCOMPLISH NEXT YEAR.

REFERENCES:
1. Zamonski, Stanley W. and Keller, Teddy, The Fifty-niners, Sage Books, New York, 1961, pp 57-60.
2. Goldrick Colorado’s First Professor by Dr. Tom Noel,  Image of Goldrick obtained without permission from this article.

3. Newspaper Image from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 17, 1879.
4. Rocky Mountain News Advertisement
5. Rocky Mountain News Story of Union School

 

 

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10 Responses to 1860 – Professor O. J. Goldrick opens Denver Union School

  1. Judith Grout says:

    What an intriguing character in his spotless white linen driving two oxen pulling a wagon. A clever stranger who sparks curiosity in the on-lookers. An interesting read.

  2. This was a delight to read! Thanks for mentioning it on the WWW listserv. I assume you are working this into a book? I’d read it.

  3. Carmen Peone says:

    “A gold miner, to mine the children’s minds.” That is priceless! Great article.

  4. PH Garrett says:

    Great writing. Is this growing into a novel? Or?

  5. Doris Baker says:

    Hi. Just this morning reading your blog. Loved it. Learned from it. Description of Goldrick’s arrival in Denver reminds me of reports of Oscar Wilde’s sojourn to the mining camps.

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