Too many folks think of Colorado as naturally beautiful, but a wasteland of real history and heritage; unworthy to be mentioned, in this regard, in the same breath as Virginia, Tennessee, or South Carolina.
Such thinking would ignore the pivotal role in taming the West by sons of the South...
The central role of Southern pioneers was also true to a considerable extent of the Far West. Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Charles Bent, and other major figures of Rocky Mountain exploration were Southern born. The first two Senators from California were Southerners as was one of the first Senators from Oregon. Experienced gold miners from North Carolina and Georgia were active in the California gold fields, and Oliver P. Fitzgerald from Tennessee was the most influential Protestant clergymen in the early history of the State. The first chairman of the Democratic party in Los Angeles was from Louisiana and left in 1861 to join the Confederate army.
The Southern nature of the West is nowhere more apparent than in the Cattle Kingdom. From early colonial times stockraising was the major industry of the backcountry and upcountry South as it had been of the British fringe regions. Daniel Boone’s first trip away from home was driving a hog herd to market in Philadelphia. The western term Maverick comes from Samuel Maverick who was born in Charleston and entered the stockraising business in upcountry South Carolina before moving to San Antonio. At the end of the War to Prevent Southern Independence Texans were impoverished but had large herds of wild cattle that could be rounded up and driven north to where people had money and wanted beef. Not until later did Northeastern and British capitalists get into the game.
I was told a few years ago that a large Confederate flag dominates the main room of the Cattleman’s Club in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I don’t know if this was true or is still true, but there is a reason that Owen Wister called his cowboy hero The Virginian. Without the cultural transmission of Southern chivalry to the West, a cowboy is just a proletarian who herds animals rather than a knight of the plains.
– Professor Clyde Wilson, The Rockford Institute 2009 Summer School on “The American West.”
In addition to this, Southerner and Confederate veteran James Benton Grant served as the third state governor of Colorado. Our land is the resting place for hundreds of Southern veterans of the War Between the States.
YOU, dear reader, are probably not too far removed from Southern soil, having moved here recently. Or, perhaps your father, or his father, or his grandfather uprooted himself and his family from the Southland for a new life in the West.
They carried Dixie with them in their hearts. Do you?