Our First Big Theft


November 28, 2018

Back in 1911 there was a branch office of the El Paso County Sheriff right here in Fountain. It was Harry Galbraith, and he watched the southern half of the county. He was not very busy, but he did solve one of the first auto thefts in the area.

Harry lived on a farm east of town, and would come into town each afternoon. His first stop was the telephone office on North Main. Frank Coigrove lived in the building, assisted by Mrs. Erickson, the "operator". At the time there were only about a dozen telephones in town. Galbraith did not have one, and if there was a really important call for him, Frank would go get him, otherwise they would take a message. Harry would get these messages when he came into town. That is, unless there were no lights on in the telephone office, when he would go to the Santa Fe railroad station, where there was a phone. He would then call the sheriff's office in Colorado Springs to check for messages.

On this occasion there was news that a Ford had been stolen from a home in Colorado Springs. Harry had chased down horse and buggy thieves, but this was his first automobile theft. He thought about something he had seen on his way in to work. Out near Sand Creek, near where Metcalfe Park is today, there had been a man from Oklahoma camping, with a couple teenaged sons. They had a wagon, and they had already attracted Harry's attention. The boys carried rifles and knives. He was told they needed them to hunt for food. They had established themselves as a "tough" lot.

There was only one automobile in town, owned by W.D. Riddoch, local lumber and hardware man. Harry reported what he thought to the sheriff's office before he started a search. He found a Ford parked in a ravine on Sand Creek, not far from the road east. He checked it over, and started to follow a trail down to the camper outfit. As he approached the family was sitting, eating. Revolver in hand, Harry stepped up and announced his authority. The boys stood up, and challenged Harry, but he kept calm. In the end he marched the two boys into town, and put them in the Fountain jail. The story has an interesting turn at this point. I am going to keep you on edge, here. You need to come back next week and find the end of this tale.


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