Brandywine Battlefield, S.E. PA
St. Louis, MO
William Gilpin was born October 4, 1813, on the Brandywine battlefield in southeastern Pennsylvania. When he was ten years of age he was placed in a private school in England where he remained about two years. Returning to the United States he entered the University of Pennsylvania, and after his graduation there was appointed a Cadet at West Point where he was graduated in 1836.
Assigned to the Second Regiment United States Dragoons, as a Lieutenant, he served in the Seminole war. At the close of that war he resigned from the army and located at St. Louis, but in 1841 removed to Independence, Mo., and became Secretary of the lower branch of the State Legislature. His studies at West Point having included a law course, he prepared to engage in law practice at Independence, but in 1843 joined Fremont’s expedition to the Oregon country, as elsewhere mentioned. He went to the mouth of the Columbia river with Fremont and there participated in an attempt to organize a new Territory in that region; having drafted the memorial to Congress, which he submitted to and advocated before that body after his return in 1844. He claimed to have been the founder of Portland, Ore.
Returning to Independence, he resided there until the outbreak of the Mexican war when he was commissioned a Major of the First Missouri (Doniphan’s) Cavalry, and served with distinction in the southwest in operations against Mexico, and later against hostile Indians. With a force of 1,200 men sent to pacify certain western tribes and of which he was in command as Colonel, he wintered near Pike’s Peak in 1847-48. At the termination of this service later in 1848 he returned to Independence where he resided until his appointment as Governor of Colorado Territory in 1861. The later events in his public career are outlined in the course of this history.
After retiring from the office of Chief Executive of the Territory, Governor Gilpin remained an honored and beloved citizen of Denver until his death, which occurred during the night of January 19, 1894, at his residence 321 South Fourteenth street. Up to that time his health had been fair for a man of his years, and there had been no warning that his end was so near. He was found dead in his bed in the morning of January 20th. He was a man of no ordinary type, brave, generous, enthusiastic, impracticable in some things, and of winning ways in his intercourse with his fellow-men. The deaths of few men have caused deeper, more sincere regret than that of Governor Gilpin, brought to the people of Denver and of Colorado.