(? - 1885)
The history of Brown's Park in northwest Colorado is one of the most fascinating. Along the outlaw trail, characters of all kinds visited this area. Butch Cassidy, Matt Warner, Harry Tracy and others passed through this beautiful area. Just as rich in history were the local residents. Jesse Ewing was one of those people.
Jesse's origins are not known. It is known he ran a stage station along the Overland Trail, then headed to South Pass to begin prospecting. In South Pass a mining claim dispute with a person named Coulter ended with Coulter spending time in jail. Ewing climbed a knoll near the jail and fired shots through the barred window at Coulter. The high placement of the window provided Coulter protection and he was not hit by any of the maniac bullets.
In Green River, WY Ewing joined a failed prospecting mission down the Green River. One of the boats sunk after hitting a rock. The party split, but Jesse Ewing stayed in Brown's Park. Prospecting in Brown's Park he found indications of a copper ore vein.
Ewing had a method of extracting money from strangers. He would take them into "partnership" with his mine. Later, he would quarrel with that person and run them out of town with his gun or knife. On one trip to the town of Green River, he heard that Coulter (see above) was sick and on his deathbed. For reasons unknown, Ewing fired several shots through a window at the bedridden man. Ewing only succeeded in putting bullets in the wall several inches from the dying Coulter.
Ewing's mine became deeper and deeper as he searched for the copper vein. On a cold winter day, Ewing kills a man named Charlie Roberts (or Robinson) either out of fear of Robert's nearby claim or for money lost in a poker game to Roberts. The exact details vary depending on the source used. Ewing pleaded self-defennse and he was not charged with murder.
The grouchy old man took on a companion name Madame Forrestal who had "served" the public in the town of Green River. The soap opera begins with the appearance of a man named Frank Duncan. Ewing hires the handsome Frank Duncan to help with the mine. Frank Duncan and Madame Forrestal took a fancy to each other. Whether Madame Forrestal applied her old trade as Ewing's means of payment for working in the mine or an affair hidden from Jesse Ewing occurred is not clear.
Claiming to feel poorly one day, Frank Duncan did not go to the mine. After a long hard day, Ewing headed back to the cabin. A shot rang out from the trees and Jesse Ewing fell dead. Frank Duncan surfaced from the trees holding Ewing's Winchester. Frank Duncan and Madame Forrestal packed everything they could and headed down the outlaw trail.
Jesse Ewing is buried in an isolated grave across the road from the John Jarvie Historical Site in Brown's Park (about 40 miles west of Maybell, CO). The words on his headstone say:
Lived about 3 miles north of here at the head of Jesse Ewing Canyon. Jesse arrived in Brown's Park in 1867. He was ambushed in dispute over affections of Madame Forrestal. Buried here by John Jarvie and and Albert (Speck) Williams.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Books about Brown's Park
Where the Old West Stayed Young by John Rolfe Burroughs
THE book on the history of Brown's Park. A fact filled book that is fun to read.
The Romantic and Notorious History of Brown's Park by Diana Allen Kouris
An important book on Brown's Park since the sources used are different (in places) from those referenced by Burroughs.