Fagan's Grave

Date Photographed: 16 June 2000
Number of Burials: 1
Volunteer: Linda Vixie
Special Thanks: Ruth Ann Steele, Richard Gehling

Fagan's Grave is located on private property east of Monument at the northeast corner of Meridian and Evans Roads in Section 7, Township 11 South, Range 64 West. It is on the west bank of Kiowa Creek near Point of the Rocks by what was the Jimmy Camp or Cherokee Trail. According to GPS-derived geolocation (accurate to within 10 meters), the marker's coordinates are latitude 3906'26.0"N and longitude 10435'33.5"W. For permission to access the site, contact Ruth Ann Steele, 12820 Evans Road, Elbert, CO 80106.

There is no inscription on the main stone, and sources disagree on the name of the person buried here. They do, however, concur it was a member of the Marcy-Loring Expedition who died in a blizzard in the spring of 1858.

The blizzard struck the evening of April 29 and raged for 60 hours, according to Capt. Randolph Marcy's The Prairie Traveler (1860). Second Lt. John Dubois, who rode out the blizzard at Col. Loring's camp at Point of Rocks, wrote in his diary: "In the morning [May 1] a dead man was found within one hundred yards of our tent, frozen to death. . . . We buried the man who had frozen to death."(1) According to reports left by later gold seekers, the man who had frozen to death was Michael Fagan, a civilian teamster. The only official mention was a brief statement in the report of Col. Loring to the Secretary of War: "a citizen teamster in the quartermaster's employ was frozen to death."(2)

In 1859 Luke Tierney, part of the Russell party, published History of the Gold Discoveries on the South Platte River, in which he recalls seeing near Point of the Rocks on June 21, 1858, "a wooden cross, bearing the inscription, "Charles Michael Fagan 1858."

His companion, T.C. Dickson, remembered a board on a grave that read: "Michael Fagan, froze to death on the 6th day of May, 1858."(3)

Later that year, gold seeker David Kellogg recorded in his journal: "We camped at Point of Rocks close to the grave of another of Marcy's men. A cross over the grave reads: 'Michael Fagan, Died May 10th, 1857.'"(4)

Colorado College professor Francis W. Cragin (1858-1937) writes that the teamster's name was James Fagin, but an examination of his papers at the Pioneers Museum, Colorado Springs, Colo., did not uncover his source.(5)

1. Dubois, Col. John Van Deusen. Campaigns in the West 1856-1861, ed. by George P. Hammond. (Tucson: Arizona Pioneers West Society, 1949).

2. Loring, Col. W.W. "Colonel Loring's Itinerary," Secretary of War Report, 1858, pp.183-84. Senate Doc. 2 sess., 35th Congress, Vol. 2, 1858-59, Serial No. 975 U.S. (Washington: William A. Harris, 1859).

3. Dickson, T.C. "Early Experiences of Col. T.C. Dickson," related by J.D. Miller. The Trail, Vol. III, (March 1911), pp. 5-11.

4. Kellogg, David. "Across the Plains in 1858," The Trail, Vol. V, (January 1913), pp. 5-12.

5. Cragin, Francis W., "Jimmy Camp," Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, 17 February 1957, p. 5.