Albert M. Colson


Albert6 M. COLSON (*Brackley5 Christopher4) was born Mar. 13, 18431and was reared in Eaton, Madison Co., New York receiving a common education as did his brothers and sisters. He was variously employed until the outbreak of the Civil War when he enlisted in Company "C", Ninety-First New York Infantry, which was assigned to the Department of the Gulf and later went with the Fifth Army Corps under the command of Gen. Warren.

After a faithful service of four years, during which he shared with his comrades the various dangers and hardships in the army, Albert, a Corporal, was honorably discharged in July of 1865. After his discharge, he returned to Eaton and engaged in the livery business until 1867. At that time, he left home, going west to search out his fortune. Albert spent a year in California, a year in Arizona and six months in the Dakota Territory before settling in Kansas.

Albert spent a short time in Winfield before moving to Caldwell, Sumner County in May of 1871. The first year after settling in Caldwell was spent handling cattle in partnership with J.B. RYLAND. In the spring of 1872, the partnership was dissolved, though Albert was to continue in the cattle business for many years. In addition to cattle, he had many other business interests. He had extensive real estate holdings, his ranch in the Indian Territory was said to measure ten miles square. Additionally, he leased and operated the Southwestern Hotel and had stock in other ventures. He was a stockholder in the Caldwell Stock Exchange Bank, stockholder and the Director of the Caldwell Savings Bank, President of the Board of Directors of the Caldwell Hotel Company, and Chairman of the Board of Inspectors of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.

Upon opening of Oklahoma in 1893, like thousands of others, became affected by the Oklahoma craze and took an active part in the "grand horse race" made by President Harison's proclamation opening that territory to settlement. being one of the first to enter, he by riding rapidly, secured a choice claim, (Cherokee Strip Claim 284; SE 1/4 T27 R4 Section 2. 160 acres).2

Albert was actively engaged in the politics of the time. In the first Sumner County Elections in 1871, he was elected the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Caldwell was a cattle town on the Chisholm Trail and as such, there were many problems with law and order.3 On Dec. 17, 1881 in Caldwell, Mike MEAGHER, past Wichita Marshall, and Caldwell Mayor were killed in a shootout with Jim TALBOT and his gang. After the death of Mayor MEAGHER, Caldwell was in need of a new Mayor. As a rancher, as well as a town business man, Albert was acceptable to both factions, in 1882, he was elected Mayor of Caldwell, serving two terms.

After Albert's election as Mayor, he hired three gunfighters to administer justice. One of these, Henry Newton BROWN, unknown to Albert and the city council, was a fugitive from justice fleeing from a murder charge in New Mexico. Henry was charged with murder while participating in the fabled "Lincoln County Cattle Wars" as a member of the notorious "Billy the Kid Gang." Hired as assistant marshal in 1882 and later promoted to marshal, BROWN had failed to tell the city council about his interesting past but his law enforcement abilities became legendary4.

Brown, though considered a bit quick on the trigger, gave Caldwell nearly two years of exemplary service and, in appreciation, the citizens of Caldwell gave him a new, engraved Winchester rifle in 1884. This service was abruptly ended May 1, 1884, when BROWN, using his new Winchester, with two other comrades was captured after trying to rob the bank at nearby Medicine Lodge, in the process killing its president and cashier. "All were killed in turn by the angry citizens of that place".5 Brown's rifle is now on display in the Kansas Historical Museum, Topeka.

The damning notoriety brought upon Caldwell by the gunmen in whom it had placed its trust more than offset any previous benefits from Mayor COLSON's efforts to contain violence. In the election of 1884, Albert was defeated in his bid for a third term. In 1885, he was elected to the City Council, serving as President of that body for several years.

In addition to his business and political interests, Albert was also active in civic and fraternal organizations. He was a Mason in good standing, a member a of the Knights of Phythis, Uniform Rank, and Commander of Upton Post No. 27 of the Grand Army of the Republic. Additionally, Albert was instrumental in Caldwell receiving a Carnegie grant for a library and the building of Caldwell's Opera House.5

In 1874, Albert married Mary A. GOLDIE of Milan, Kansas. She was born in Iowa in the year 1860. Only a few weeks after the birth of their only child, Fawnie, Mary died at the Colson home in Caldwell. Fawnie M., b. Mar. 03, 1879,7 in the Indian Territory, (Oklahoma); m. Ernest D. LUDER; d. 1959 in Caldwell, KS. Fawnie was said to be the first white child born in the Cherokee Strip.

The following year, Albert contracted a second marriage, marrying the widow Mary J. GARRETSON. Mary was born in Litchfield, Illinois, Apr. 11, 1853. Of her first marriage she had two children, a daughter, Catherine E. (Katie) born Jul. 15, 1871 and a son Charlie who died Jul. 14, 1877. Albert and Mary J. did not have any children of their own.

Financially, Albert was a success, having brought with him when he came to Caldwell, less than $1,000, by 1892, he was estimated to be worth from $30,000 to $40,000.8 Thus it could be said Albert did find his fortune west. Albert died in Caldwell, Apr. 02, 1924, his wife Mary, died Nov. 22, 1934 in Washington DC.9 where she was visiting her daughter Kate. Kate's husband, John H. SCHAFFHAUSEN worked for the Department of the Interior at the time.10


Phil Colson

check also:

1 Unless otherwise noted, biographical information on Albert M. Colson see; Andress; HISTORY OF KANSAS, pg. 1503; Chapman Bros.: PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF SUMNER CO., KANSAS; (Chicago, 1890), pg. 201-202; G.D. Freeman, MIDNIGHT AND NOONDAY, OR THE INCIDENTAL HISTORY OF SOUTHERN KANSAS, (Caldwell, 1892), pg. 400-402; CALDWELL JOURNAL, March 25, 1886 issue.

2 Mrs. Voightlander, Cherokee Strip Museum, PO Box 230, Arkansas City, Kansas, Cherokee Strip Land Claims, A.M. Colson, No. 284.

3 Robert R. Dykstra, THE CATTLE TOWNS; University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London (originally published: 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1968).



6 RECOLLECTIONS OF E.D. "SONNY" LUDER; 108 N. St. George, Caldwell, Kansas 67022; grandson of A.M. Colson, (told to Phillip Colson, April 8, 1984).

7 Ibid.

8 G.D. Freeman, MIDNIGHT AND NOONDAY, Caldwell, 1892, pg. 402.

9 SUMNER CO., KANSAS, PROBATE RECORDS; (see Colson, A.M. and Mary J.).