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Portrait of Eliza Boyd West, who arrived here in 1859 and certainly never had time to be immoral

109 Years Ago
The May 27, 1915 Colorado Transcript included an article relating memories of Hugh Steele, a pioneer who had arrived in Golden in 1859. He had a few interesting observations about women–and clothing for both men and women.

It took nerve to be a pioneer man, but it took still more nerve to be a pioneer woman. I believe women had better morals in those days. But come to think about it, woman who took care of a log cabin, brought up six children, carried wood and water, and cooked, sewed and washed for her family didn’t have much time to be immoral.

Sunbonnets and calico were the rule in those early days. The Paris fashions hadn’t penetrated to Denver yet, and nearly everyone who came here was poor as Job’s turkey when he landed.

After they struck it rich in the hills some of them began to dress up, but it was a saying for a good many years that you didn’t want to turn up your nose at a man in rags, as he might be a college graduate; or a man in buckskins, as he might be a millionaire. And buckskins were a very common dress in those days. Clothes cost a great deal by the time they had been freighted from the East through bands of hostile Indians, fording rivers and coming through all the other uncertainties of pioneer travel.

The Golden Transcript (originally called the Colorado Transcript) has been publishing since 1866. The Golden History Museum has been working on digitizing the historic issues. You’ll find old Transcripts online at