Downing, Major Jacob

Major Jacob Downing
Arapahoe County, CO
Albany, NY (Albany Co.)
Cleveland, OH (Cayuhoga Co.)
Cook County, IL
Mountain City, CO
Central City, CO
Denver, CO 1860

page 409

Major Jacob Downing, whose name and services as a commander are so intimately associated with the defense of pioneer Colorado against invasion by the Confederate forces, and with the later operations against the Indians on these plains, was born in Albany, N.Y., April 12, 1830. After a thorough English education at the Albany Academy, he became a clerk in the City Bank of Albany, of which Erastus Corning was President, and so continued until 1850 when, with his parents, he removed to Cleveland, Ohio. After several years of travel in the west he located in Chicago in 1855, where he studied law. In the spring of 1860 he came from Chicago to Colorado and temporarily cast his fortunes with Mountain City - later merged into Central City.

Late in the summer of 1860 Major Downing removed to Denver, and has been a citizen here since that time.  He participated in organizing the Provisional city Government in the autumn of 1860, and in 1861 recruited and organized a company, of which he became Captain, for the First Regiment Colorado Infantry which was later made a cavalry regiment.  For his brilliant services and conspicuous gallantry in the campaign and battles in New Mexico that drove Gen. Sibley out of that Territory, he was made a Major of cavalry.  So much of his services is involved in our accounts of the operations against the Confederates and later against the Indians, that it would be a needless repetition to outline them here.  After the New Mexico campaign Major Downing was placed in command of the important frontier post, Fort Larned, Kansas, where he successfully protected 240 miles of stage-coach and emigrant route against the Indians with but 150 men at his command.  For these services and for his management of the Indian tribes in that part of the country he was complimented by the Commanding General of the Department.  He next became Assistant Inspector General or the Department, with nearly a dozen western military posts and camps under his jurisdiction.

Major Downing remained on that duty until the outbreak of the Indian troubles in 1864, when he entered upon his distinguished services in the Indian campaign. With a small force he fought the battle of Cedar Canon where, though outnumbered three or four to one by the Indians, he defeated them by the first serious blow struck them in this part of the western country. Returning to Denver with his command, he led one of the columns of Colonel Chivington’s expedition against the Cheyennes and Arapahoes at Sand creek.

Mustered out of the service in December ,1864, Major downing returned to civil life in Denver.  In 1867 he was elected Probate Judge of Arapahoe county, and upon expiration of his term engaged in dealing in real estate, and in farming and stock-raising.  But in that period, as elsewhere narrated, he was called upon to organize defense of the city against the last two menacing outbreaks of the plains Indians.  Having acquired near Green Mountain, five miles west of Denver, a fine ranch of 2,000 acres, he has long been one of the most extensive stock-raisers in the State.  It was he, in 1862, who introduced alfalfa in Colorado.

On November 1, 1871, Major Downing married Miss Caroline Rosecrans, of Saratoga, N.Y.; a descendant of an old and distinguished Revolutionary family.