An Old Home Craft In Grand Lake

The family’s cottage sits about halfway down the south shore of Grand Lake on Jerico Road. My grandparents Anna and Earl Batty purchased the property from Jay and Mamie Adams (Adams Falls) in September 1908. It is my best guess that the duplex log cabin was constructed the next summer and they probably first used it in August of 1910.

The cabin was very basic. It was constructed of D logs, chinked with horsehair oakum and still has much of the bark on the exterior side of the logs. The interior, flat walls were covered with 1909 Denver Post newspapers. Tacked over the newspapers was colored burlap, a common practice in D log-built structures. When my father returned from WW 2 in the summer of 1946, he found that Uncle Harry had one electric lightbulb installed in each room. Sometime in the late 40s or early 50s, dad turned the dining room into a bathroom and enlarged the kitchen area. I’ve never known the cottage to not have running water and electricity.

The one item that is still there from the original cabin is a mirror installed in a large wood-burned frame. The frame is covered by strange-looking sea creatures, in particular a couple of squid-like ones.

One summer I was attending the local estate sale of an old summer lake cottage, soon to be replaced with a modern year-round structure. When this happens, I try to save something from the cottage. This time there was a wood-burned wall hanging, so that is what I chose to save. Now I have several of them hanging on my walls. During the summer of 2018 I discovered one that had an elk on it and the initials BPOE burned in on it. Since it was in one of Clyde Eslick’s outbuildings on my town property, I assumed it might have been his. In the Kauffman House, there is a photo of the three Kauffman girls in an old wood-burned frame.

During the summer of 2021, I being the curious type, started researching wood burning back when my grandmother Anna Stewart Batty (1880 – 1919) might have decorated the cottage mirror frame and discovered an interesting history of the craft.

Decorating wood, leather, and gourds by burning them with hot pokers, wires, electric woodburning tools and lasers goes back about 2000 years. Some say it started in China, others in Iran and it’s even been discovered in Peru.

Originally heated metal pokers would be used to burn art into furniture, wall hangings, and gourds. Finer detailed items were burned with metal-tipped pen-like instruments or wires.

In 1875 a Frenchman invented a gas cauterizing apparatus for closing wounds and blood vessels. Ten years later another Frenchman adapted the small benzene gas machine to be used with a platinum-tipped pen-like instrument to create wood-burned works of art (Vulcan wood etching machine). The name given to the, now home craft, was pyro graphics or pyrography (writing with fire).

It soon caught on as a home hobby for decorating homes and burned art sold to others less talented. It first spread over France and Belgium, then to Germany and Austria. From there the craft made its way to England and across the pond to America. One of the features of this craft tool was that electricity was not needed. Much of rural Nebraska and Colorado did not get electricity until later in the 30s and 40s. I feel with considerable certainty that the two pieces of pyrography I have of grandmother Anna’s were both made at her home in Alma, NE or Grand Lake without using electricity.

Youtube video showing how to wood burn without electricity.
The Flemish Art Company in Brooklyn, NY about 1910
Advertising material for the “Art of Fire”.
Example of “Pen like Tip”.
Photo of Anna’s handkerchief box.

Here’s a link to a site with lots more detail on the subject

Eslick BPOE pyro-art.
Gibson Girl pyro-art.

Here is one of the youtube videos I discovered while searching “Charles Gibson”. You can also search on youtube for “Gibson Girl”. My grandmother drew a Gibson Girl which also hangs on a bedroom wall.

Video about Charles Gibson.
Poinsettias were a frequent design in pyro-art.
Crescent moon pyro-art wall hanging.
Funky cabin pyro-art mirror frame
Pyro-art tie rack with new laser art of Anna Batty 1880-1919


My Passion for Grand Lake’s History

Grand Lake has always been my summer vacation home as it was my father’s starting in 1915 and every year after that until he graduated from medical school in 1938. After that, life and world events, like World War II, sometimes got in the way of his returning every August. We both grew up on the south shore of the lake and almost at the end of Jericho Road. Grand Lake it seems is in the family’s blood.

Dad loved fly fishing for trout but once he became a member of the Grand Lake Yacht Club he added sailing to his passions for the lake. I, on the other hand, only sailed when he shanghaied me. I loved fishing the high streams and lakes. But, as I grew older and started spending more of the summer in Grand Lake, I met Dorothy O’Donnell O’Ryan and my life changed. She introduced me to a side of the Lake I had never experienced.

Dorothy’s family has been coming to the lake since the middle of the 1890s and the family name was Bryant. Harry Bryant, her grandfather, built a family log cabin on the southwest corner of the lake. Harry also was one of the three founding members of the GL Yacht Club. Dorothy Bryant married into the O’Donnell family and the cabin is still in that family. Dorothy told me many of her stories and we did research in Denver where the two families have lived. Did you know that Dorothy’s aunt Minnie Bryant was played by Maureen O’Hara in the 1957 John Wayne movie “The Wings of Eagles?”

One beautiful September morning in 2004 Dorothy called and said she had an old photo album, which had a picture of my grandparents in it. The album belonged to Mac Ruske and he had found it in his parent’s attic but knew nothing of its origin. When I saw the old photo, I was a little disappointed because it was a double-exposed picture and not very sharp. But, like most of the four hundred plus photos in the album, the names of those in the pictures were written below. My grandparent’s names were neatly printed in white ink, Earl and Anna Batty. From that time forward I started researching how my family happened to arrive in Grand Lake during the early fall of 1908 and purchased the family vacation lot. The next year they built a duplex cabin with the Keesters, also from Alma, Nebraska.

I traced my grandparent’s arrival in Grand Lake to the Jay Adams family from San Antonio, Texas. Through my research in the Phillips County Genealogy Society, I discovered that Jay and his brother Lee Adams had been living in Alma when the State of Nebraska did the 1885 census. Jay Adams purchase most of the shoreline from Adams Falls, named for him, past where my grandparents purchased their lots from him. As far as I know, his original summer home, now owned by Ginny Paul was one of the first summer homes on Grand Lake and was built around 1890. Also named for Jay Adams are Mt. Adams and Adams Lake. Jay was a close friend of Reverend Baynard Craig. Mt. Craig, more commonly known as Mt. Baldy, and Craig’s point were named for the preacher. Jay named one of his two sons, Craig after his friend the reverend. The Historical Society has a 1955 Rotary Club recording of Craig Adams telling what it was like to grow up in Grand Lake during the summers before Rocky Mountain National Park was in existence. The 28-minute youtube video below is that 1955 audio recording introduced by Mac Ruske.

This past summer, 2014, as I watched the Matchless Mountain Cabins either be moved away or torn down, then crushed into small pieces, I read two of Nell Pauly’s books A Most Dangerous Woman and The Day Before Yesterday. My interest in Nell’s books was the destruction of the old motel because Nell, her husband Jake Young and two children had lived in the “The Love Nest,” the original structure on the lot, starting in 1926 when they purchased it from the daughter of Mother Harbison. Nell and her family actually lived in the unfinished attic of The Love Nest during the summers when she rented out the lower three rooms to vacationers. Nell’s family, like many other early town residents had to make almost all of their annual income between May and mid-September, much like what is still happening today. Eventually, Nell turned the one rental cabin where they also lived into many and called her motel “Mountain Home Cabins.”

Nell’s two books are chuck full of stories about her life and times living in Grand Lake (1923 – 1972) and her interaction with residents and summer vacationers. A Dangerous Woman is actually her autobiography and shows her growing up in what today we call a dysfunctional family, and at eighteen years of age marrying into another dysfunctional family who owned the Young’s Rustic Inn Hotel on the west shore of Grand Lake.

Nell’s other book I read, The Day Before Yesterday, is about many of the early residents of the Grand Lake area who are buried in the town’s cemetery located in Rocky Mountain National Park just north of town. Some of the articles are actual obituaries taken from the newspapers and some are her own recollections and others came from her mother-in-law Josie Young.

I found the material in both books very interesting and it gave me insight into what it was like to live and work in Grand Lake in the olden days. After reading the two books, I took a stroll through the cemetery and matched the funky headstones with the people in her books.

Nell wrote many books and the two I mentioned above can be purchased from the Historical Society.

Note; I pulled this small hand painted green chair out of the Nell Pauly Mountain Home Cabins attic just prior to “The Love Nest” being demolished and hauled off to the landfill. The chair and several other household items recovered from the Young’s summer sleeping abode were saved and donated to the Society. If you look closely you can see two drake mallard ducks hand painted on the seat and back of the chair. Nell fancied herself a pretty good artist and sign painter, another of her vocations to help the family survive from year to year

Saving an old GL Summer Cabin

click for audio

The Village of Grand Lake, (GL) was a pretty difficult place to live after the three silver mines that spurred its existence failed in the early 1880s. Those who stayed to tough out the harsh winter weather eventually found themselves living in an early summer tourist destination. When the first train arrived in Granby in 1905 from Denver, the three-day trek from Denver to Grand Lake turned in to one long day. What a boost for the GL area. Then, once the road was improved over Berthoud Pass and automobiles grew stronger, even more tourists started arriving. So much so that P.H. Smith and his son-in-law Clyde Eslick built the first motel. Now referred to as the Cottage Court

Summer of 2020 view of the Cottage Court with 1929 model A Ford.

To accommodate the additional interest in GL, individual small log cabins were starting to appear. They were pretty basic. Mostly, they were equipped with a small pot bellied stove, a bed or two, table, chair and when water came to town they were developed into summer water only cabins. Their plumbing consisted of a sink with one cold water line in and the wastewater running out on the ground outside. If there was a group of cabins located together there usually was a shared wooden privy somewhere near. 

The story I’m going to recount is about one of those old summer rental cabins located at 829 Park Ave., just one block north of Grand Ave. 

Front view of the old, summer water only, rental cabin on Park Ave.

I had been interested in the old full log cabin for years. It was unique because it had a green and white metal roof on one side, with all five windows and two doors screwed and nailed shut. As fate would have it, on a June 2019 day the owner/developer called me wondering if I might like to have the building, for free. I drove over and found the rear door open so I took a look inside. It was chuck-full of old building materials and junk. I realized right away it was too large for my little house in town at 721 Lake Ave. but decided I probably knew a person who would love to have it and could even, with a little help, move it himself. 

I called Travis at his Winding River Ranch and told him the situation. Travis and I got together later in the week and I gave him a look. He agreed it would be perfect for his dude ranch and would move it. The owner had told me it needed to be gone by the first of August that summer. Travis agreed to the timetable. Well kind of, you have to remember it is mountain time and very few things in GL happen on time. 

I spent my spare time during July hauling out anything I thought might have value and putting it in front of the cabin. Eventually, much of the stuff disappeared except for the 12 used bathroom sinks. During the first week of August I conscripted some of my family to help empty out the remaining junk and put it in a large trailer supplied by Travis. As a reward I took my family to the Jump Start Coffee and Tea Shop for sweets and drinks. Since it only took an hour of time I think it turned into a fun time for all. 

The trailer was full when we left to celebrate at the Jump Start.

click to listen

On August 9th I posted on Facebook account some photos of the work detail loading the junk into the trailer and described what the family was doing. The next day, Don left a comment saying that Meredith had lived in that vacant cabin when she worked for the Grand Lake Restaurant in the late 60s. Well, I know Meredith, and her family has had a summer cottage on the south shore of GL since the early 1940s.  Later that month, while driving down Jerico Rd., I noticed her car parked at their cabin.  I stopped and found her and a couple other women in the gazebo making a quilt. 

I told Meredith about Don’s comment and she said she had lived there during the summer of her 21st year, 1968. It appears that Phebe had been living in the cabin and when she moved out Meredith had moved in. Because the doors were nailed shut entry was through the front window.  Also, the outhouse was down the block and used by other cabin renters. When I asked Meredith why she lived in town and not at their beautiful 1900 lake house, she replied. “The house rule was, if you worked in town you lived in town”. Meredith mentioned that there was no electrical power to the cabin. She thought it had a bed, maybe a table and chair, cold running water in the lean-to and no wood stove. Pretty basic living conditions. To see the complete Facebook page for the above photo click here.

click to listen

At the end of August, there were a few damp days so, one morning, when he could not be cutting hay, Travis and three or four friends showed up with their heavy equipment and a couple of ladders. In four hours they taken off the metal roof, removed the large lean-to on the back of the cabin and had it all loaded on trailers ready to be driven to the ranch when there was less traffic at night

Travis and crew who performed their magic on the old rental cabin.

From owning one of these old summer water only rental cabins I knew how to identify them by where the one water line came in and one out plus the cover in the ceiling where the pot bellied stove pipe went into the attic. 

This rental cabin had the galvanized water pipe still on top of the ground but hidden in the tall weeds. The sink and stove had long disappeared like they had in my old building. 

A few other discoveries made the project fun for me. 1) My first treasure was finding an old kitchen table. When I turned the table on its side to get it through the door I noticed the name P.H. Smith stenciled on one of the boards. In the old days anything valuable transported into GL was put in a wooden crate with the name of the recipient stenciled in black ink.  Another fact is that P. H. Smith and this son-in-law; Clyde Eslick built the Cottage Camp motel.  

2) Written on one of the inside walls of the lean-to was, “I have slept in better cabins but I don’t know when, Paul Kernodle, Grandview MO, Write me! 1953 age 16.”   I was able to find some facts about Paul from his 2008 obituary that is associated with “find a grave” website. Paul was born in September of 1937, he earned his private aircraft license when he was 16 and his instrument rating at age 18, graduated from U of MO in 1960 followed by three years in the US Army then flew for Ozark and TWA airlines. I had hoped to be able to communicate with Paul since he was only 9 years older than I, but it was not to be. He died in KC in 2008. Note: If Paul was there in a summer month and not late September, he was actually only 15. I can see him wanting to have it say he was older and able to drive.

Paul Kernodle’s message written during his stay in 1953.

3) There were two names I was able to track down. One had become a schoolteacher in Texas but like Paul was deceased. I was also able to find a third young lady but then the leads disappeared. 4) On a couple of the logs in the larger building, there were several more invitations, by what were probably young girls, leaving their names and the small towns they were from. Their young ages kept me from finding them using the US Censes. The latest censes data is from 1940 and the 1950 censes will not become public until April of 2022.  

5) The last treasure was not uncovered until the morning that the rental cabin was moved. After the remaining usable lumber was removed, the front page of an old Denver newspaper seemed to magically appear on the wood floor. The only thing I remember about it were the large head shots of President Harry Truman and his running mate Alben Barkley making it a 1948 newspaper. It seemed strange that the old newspaper was the only thing stuck to the floor planks and survived all those years. My guess is that there had been rolled linoleum protecting it just like in so many old summer rental cabins I’ve come across in GL. 

1948 Denver Post

One of my joys, at this time in my life, is researching and writing about GL history. Unfortunately, this one now has a sad ending.  It happened on October 21st, 2020. As the east troublesome fire roared east then north into RMNP, it completely consumed the Winding River Ranch and all the old building Travis had saved over the years.

Winding River Ranch before the East Troublesome fire in Oct. 2021.
Winding River Ranch after the East Troublesome fire on Oct. 21, 2021

Just knowing a few things about Paul Kernodle, like where he lived in 1953, I was able to locate the following information. 1) because he was born before 1940 I knew he would probably be in the 1940 US censes and he was. I used to locate his family along with his 1954 High School year book with photos. 2) Using I found his headstone with his obituary.

My search for Paul all started from finding his pencil message left behind from 1953.
Copied from a heading above the following yearbook photo.
Oliver Paul Kernodle’s 1953 Senior Class photo,
Dec. 4, 1979 Chillicoth Constitution Tribune
A view from the north east showing both structures.

The larger of the two parts of the building is a full log structure with milled ends while the lean-to was built with rough cut true dimension 2X4s and sided with slabs with the bark still in place. That style is referred tp as “Colorado Rustic”. I find this interesting. I’m guessing, but back when the lean-to was built, that was a by product from milling dimension lumber and the least expensive way to side structures like this one, privies sheds. My thought is that the lean-to was was hauled in and attached later. Because the two sections do not match in construction or width, it is my opinion that the lean-to was originally a stand alone structure. As to which came first, it will always remain a mystery.

The windows in the two parts are not the same. The one over head light fixture electrical wiring in the lean-to is of the earliest type. It’s call knob and tube. It consisted of a ceramic knob and two separate wires for the hot and cold wires. All the full log portion had was a single strand of romex wire with a surface mounted plug-in-box.

Knob and tube wiring from old cabin, knobs are missing in this photo.

The photo below shows the two holes in the lean-to wood plank floor where the cold water line came into the sink and the other was for the sink waste water. It was town water and was only turned on during the warmer months. To have year round water the piped need to be eight feet below the surface so they don’t freeze during the winter months.

This final section contains a collection of photos taken the day the building was made ready to move to the Winding River Ranch.

The metal roof was first removed and neatly stacked.
The lean to was separated and loaded on a separate trailer.
One of the crew taking a photo of the old 1948 Denver Post.
Front page of the 48′ Denver Post. crew member reads what kids wrote on log wall.

Getting the machines into position.
They cut the apex of the roof then lower the east side then west side to make it a box with a top.


The term, moving crew was not accurate. It was the moving Team who performed the miracle.
Location is now an empty lot. At present (5/21/2021) the lot is supporting two new houses.
Some where in this pile of Winding River Ranch rubble, you might find a remnate of the old GL summer water only rental log cabin. Photo taken May 2021.

A rather sad ending to a great effort to save a small piece of Grand Lake history. 5/21/2021


Winter of 2020/2021 Newsletter

It Seems So Quiet Here …….

It doesn’t look like it now, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. The Cottage Court Museum, the oldest original condition motor court, the “oldest motel”, is under the snow at 729 Lake Avenue, just at the corner of Vine Street. We can’t open the museum until summer melts some of this white stuff, but we are working hard to add two surprising “Object Theater” interpretive elements at the site.

Imagine coming to the door of a Cottage Court guest room, triggering an infrared sensor that starts audio and lights, and immediately being greeted by none other than the builder of the oldest original-condition motor court, Clyde Eslick! He’ll tell you a bit about the room he’s standing in, about what life was like in Grand Lake, in say 1915, and share some of his favorite items in the room and some of his favorite stories. 

Clyde was noted for his affable, genuinely friendly charm, and you’ll feel a bit like a tourist coming into town back in the day as Clyde chats with you for four to six minutes. It will be sort of deliberately rustic hi-tech.  There’ll be a second Object Theater, with an older Clyde in a second room talking a bit about life in the 1930s and 1940s. It’s all part of the master plan for the site, the work of an amazing volunteer committee in conjunction with professional exhibit designers. Should be FUN! There’s more information attached, should you be interested.

Got Tools? We Need You!

We want to add some more FUN stuff at the Cottage Court Museum. We’ve got this tempting expanse of lawn. Seems perfect for a couple of cornhole games, but we need YOU to help with this project. And, there’s more. We also want to add some family friendly, hinged “peek to find the answer” exhibit pieces – simple to build, but also needing some carpentry skills/tools. And more…  PLEASE contact us if you’d like to take on a project, and we’ll talk. 970/627-8324,  THANK YOU!

Meanwhile, at the Other Building

We’re continually working to rehabilitate that other building, the Eslick Store and Office, at the Cottage Camp site. We’ve received funding from the State Historical Fund, Grand County BOCC, and the Town of Grand Lake for various planning projects to eventually make this building strong and useful again. It will be a terrific welcome center and gift shop – stay tuned.

 Introducing “Object Theaters” at the Cottage Court Museum 

The Cottage Court Museum is still evolving, but last summer’s many visitors let us know that it is already fun, charmingly rustic, fascinating, and thought-provoking. The on-site volunteer tour guides quickly learned that people generally haven’t thought much about all the changes occurring as a result of the advent of automobiles and auto-tourism, and our humble little museum surprised, educated, and drew much praise and many, many smiles. 

We hope this summer to complete two Object Theaters, the next very exciting interpretive elements from the Master Interpretation Plan for the site. 

So, what is Object Theater? Object Theater is a historical interpretation technique that delivers a scripted audio presentation and highlights selected artifacts using focused theatrical lighting and static museum figures. 

Imagine coming to the door of a Cottage Court guest room, triggering an infrared sensor that starts audio and lights, and immediately being greeted by none other than the builder of the oldest original-condition motor court, Clyde Eslick! He’ll tell you a bit about the room he’s standing in, about what life was like in Grand Lake, in say 1915, and share some of his favorite items in the room and some of his favorite stories. Clyde was noted for his affable, genuinely friendly charm, and you’ll feel a bit like a tourist coming into town back in the day as Clyde chats with you for four to six minutes. 

 Early-on in the planning for this second Grand Lake museum, the amazing volunteer committee chose to emphasize and enhance the unique rustic qualities of the Cottage Court, to deliver information in a way that engages the visitor without the “hard” technologies now common in other museums. Clyde Eslick will not speak to his visitors from a TV or computer screen, but will seem to be “there”, simple and a bit old fashioned, but very effective. A static, museum quality figure authentically rendered to “be” Clyde Eslick as a young man in 1915 will be in Guest Room Two, near Lake Avenue, in a space restored to its 1915 condition. In Guest Room Four, near the site’s parking lot at the north end, Clyde will appear older as he shares his stories in the space restored to its “modernized” 1940 condition. 

Having two separate Object Theaters in the museum is important. There are very different things to talk about in each of these two rooms; the period between 1915, when the Cottage Court was constructed, and 1962, when it no longer operated as a business, was packed with area and national events that forever changed our lives. 

Also, as we learned last summer, visitors can cross the lawns at the Cottage Court Museum site from three directions – off Lake Avenue, off Vine Street, and from Grand Avenue. Sometimes it’s impossible for the tour guide to catch everyone to welcome them in person, so we’ll soon be able to let Clyde do it! Folks who are just “stopping by” as they enter at Lake Avenue will feel as welcome, and suddenly interested, as those who come from the parking lot. 

This is an expensive project of course, costing $50,000 for design, fabrication and installation. We hope you are able to help us add this exciting interpretation to the museum, and add your name to the display of those who brought it to life! 


Reflections from Point Park

PP-sign     A Special Place On the Shore of Grand Lake, Colorado

Researched and written by Steve Batty

My family has been coming almost every summer to Grand Lake since 1908 when Jay Adams invited the Battys and Keesters, from Jay’s former home in Alma, Nebraska. That first fall, the Battys, and Keesters purchased two adjoining lots on the south shore of the lake and had a duplex log cabin built by local craftsmen the following year.

I’ve been spending some part of almost every summer at the family cottage since I was a year old. I’m now 72 and usually refer to the Grand Lake area as “My Mountain Paradise”. This includes the area from Mount Baldy to the Rabbit Ear’s Range (now named The Never Summer Range) on the west side of Middle Park. Continue reading

aka Barney McCoy

This project began as I was reading Nell Pauly’s book, The Day Before Yesterdayone fall afternoon while sitting outdoors at The Hub sipping a cup of coffee. It was a beautiful September day with the aspen in full color. The temperature was perfect and Mia, my springer spaniel, was foraging for crumbs and handouts at the other tables.

Nell’s book is about Who’s Who in the Grand Lake Cemetery and is copyrighted in 1972 and can be purchased in the Kaufmann House Museum. Nell (1905-1981) also credits much of the material in her book to her one time mother-in-law Josie Kalsay Young Langley, who for forty-six years was proprietress of the Rustic Inn, on the west shore of Grand Lake.

The story I read that day delt with the life of Little Bill Lehman, his cousins Big Bill Lehman, Art Lehman and friend Barney McCoy.

Nell’s description of Little Bill went something like this. Little Bill was born aboard a ship while his mother was on her way from Germany and spent his childhood traveling between the several Lehman families living in Grand County. He was slight of build compared to his two cousins and struggled at making a living, performing menial labor jobs in the Grand Lake area. He was very shy with women and as he grew older his temper grew with him. When you did see Little Bill he usually was caring his small .22 caliber rifle.

National prohibition had started in 1920 but that did not curb a man’s thirst for liquor. Eventually Little Bill found his niche making white lightening and distributing it in the county.

His two larger cousins teased their smaller, younger cousin terribly. To make matters worse, after he had strained the bugs out of his hooch and bottled it, his cousins would make off with it and have themselves a good night of drinking with friends.

Eventually Little Bill threatened to shoot cousin Art if he took any more of his product. Of course, that did not stop Big Bill, Art and Barney. In June of 1932 Little Bill’s stash of hooch once again disappeared so he went looking. He knocked on J.B’s cabin door with rifle at the ready. When Art opened the cabin door, Little Bill fired. He missed Art and managed to shoot poor Barney McCoy in the heart. He died there on the spot. Little Bill fled and hid out in the snowy hills north of Grand Lake but eventually turned himself in to the law. Little Bill was tried, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the criminal insane at Canon City State Prison.

In Defense of Barney McCoy, page 139
US Military – 1stWorld War 1884-1932

“Barney McCoy and his wife Josephine came to Grand Lake in the early 1930. No one ever knew just what brought them. It was widely speculated that they were running from something.”…… During their initial stay they spent time with different families and even rented from Nell and Jake Young for three weeks before renting their own little place along the Tonohoota Creek Trail. Nell and Jake found them to be a very delightful couple, congenial and friendly.

Once the couple was established in their own place they started associating with Art and both Little and Big Bill Lehman. Because Art and Little Bill were into bootlegging whisky it was assumed that Barney was too. Then that fateful day in June 1932, when Little Bill came hunting his cousin Art for stealing his hooch, stopped by J. B’s cabin to do him in but missed and drilled poor Barney through the heart ending his life. Barney went to boot hill and Little Bill to prison for life.

After Barney’s demise more bad rumors started going around town and it seemed that Barney had been the cause of all the crimes in town. Jake and Nellie defended Barney since they had known him as a good, kind and gentle man.

At the funeral, and most folks had left, Jo McCoy, looking lovely in a black satin gown, bent down, kissed Barney on his large white brow and said “It was wonderful while it lasted, Darling.”

Some years later a new marble headstone arrived and replace the worn out white wooden cross, which had marked his grave.

I had been intrigued by Nell’s story of Little Bill Lehman, Barney and Josephine McCoy. It became a personal challenge to me to see if I could learn more about Max K Fraughton aka Barney McCoy. So, as I usually do in mysteries like this one, I went online, typed in and away I went.

First I went looking for Max. In the 1920 US census it showed him living in Heber City Utah with his mother, Eliza and two younger brothers and had been born in 1895. His father was born in English Canada and his mother in Sweden. He was a laborer and worked for wages on a farm.

The next entry indicated he sailed from New York City on June 28th1918 on the ship Justicia for France and that his service number was 1640081. He was an automatic replacement draft – Artillery. Then a little further down on the list it showed he departed St. Nazaire, France on June 20 1919 aboard the ship Pocahontas bound for Fort Hill, Newport News, VA.  Other document shown on were 1) War Service Questioner (with a wrong birthdate on it), 2) Military Service Card showing he received no wounds and was not in any engagements (did not see action), his 3) WW I Military Draft Registration card indicated he was medium build, medium height, light hair and blue eyes. His family shows up in the 4) 1910 Federal Census but his name was Mode Graughton but all the other facts about him match the 1920 census. The 1900 US census showed him listed as Mode Fraughton, same family and to show he was born in 1894 or 95.

Then I went searching for Barney McCoy and Josephine. What appeared first was the 1929 Denver City Directory and – McCoy, Barney (Josephine) cook and they resided at 4845 Irving St.. They also appeared in the 1930 US Census records for Grand Lake, CO with a few notable exceptions. He gave Alabama as his birthplace, age 40 and both of his parents were from Ireland. Josephine was born in Washington and her parents were Canada – English.

So I surmised that the two were hiding out under the alias of McCoy but why choose the name, Barney McCoy? So now I switched over to google search for the name Barney McCoy in the 1920s. And after over looking all the still living Barney McCoy names I found an entry titled “Ernest Stoneman& Uncle Eck Dunford-Barney McCoy – YouTube.” When I clicked on the link I was listening to an old song by the two men. The original song was written in 1881 and now in 1925 was making a come back. It was about a couple of young lovers wanting to migrate out of Ireland and the young lass needing to choose between leaving with Barney or staying with her family. It rather sounded like what was happening with the Grand Lake Barney and Josephine. My thought was that they just used the information in the song to hide themselves in the Denver City Directory and the 1930 US Census in Grand Lake.

I attempted to use to locate a news article that might indicate what crimes Max had supposedly committed. The only newspaper articles I located on Max had to do with is being in the Utah National Guard during the war to end all wars.

It looked to me that my search for Max K. Fraughton, aka Barney McCoy, had come to an end. Well, I might have been a little hasty in my conclusion.

Several months later, I was using to do some of my own family research. I was using the information I found to make my Family Tree when I searched Max K. Fraughton and found a LifeStory timeline on him.

It showed that he had married one Mattie Josephine Whitworth and they had a girl child by the name of Cleo McCoy. In the timeline it stated that they had married in 1913 in Somervell, TX. All of the information in his timeline was correct except for Cleo and his marriage to Josephine. It was all confusing to me until I stopped by the SWN Genealogy Society office in McCook.

It was explained to me that LifeStory timelines were manufactured by from entries found on family trees. Some how Mattie Jo and Max were shown as married. A computer program did the rest.

In further searching I found that Mattie Jo had married Barney C. McCoy in 1913 in Somervell, Texas. They had four children then divorced. She had moved to Wichita, Texas and died in 1961.

I was able to learn the owner of the family tree that contained Max and his family. Thinking she, the owner, might have additional information on Max and Josephine I could use in this article, I tried to contact her. I was even able to find where she and her husband are living but no phone number. I’ve emailed her four times and written her a snail mail letter with no replies.

So, I’ve decided there might be two possible ending to his story. The one about how they used the song to come up with aka Barney McCoy. And the one where he actually hooked up with Mattie Josephine Whitworth McCoy and used her ex husbands name to hid under.

The choice is yours. At this point in my investigation, I can believe either one but at this moment I’m leaning toward them borrowing her ex’s name.

Little Bill Lehman eventually died at Canon City State Penitentiary in 1951 and is buried under a rusty metal marker showing his location.

Along my journey to learn more about Max K. Fraughton aka Barney McCoy I found lots of material using and I would like to share some of my findings as jpg images:

Note 1)I shared this blog with Jane Kemp and here is her reply.

“Great story! Here’s an interesting note about Billy Lehman which I found in our safe. There is an affidavit signed by James Cairns, my grandfather,  that the still which the Sheriff found on his North Inlet property did not belong to him and that he had no knowledge of it. There is also an affidavit signed by Billy Lehman that the still belonged to him and that James Cairns had no knowledge of it.”

James Cairns was an early Grand Lake settler, land owner and business leader. I believe he owned a quarter section up the north inlet surrounding Tonahutu creek. James Cairns died in 1925 so the affidavits had to be dated prior to is death.

Note 2) The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited making, transporting and selling alcoholic beverages. The Volstead Act spelled it out and law enforcement began in 1920. The 21st amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment.  The Volstead allowed Little Bill Lehman to go from laborer to entrepreneur. It was too bad for both Barney and Little Bill that he could not have kept his anger in check for another eighteen months.

Note 3)ADDED 2/22/2020
The following letter was received from Barney’s’ or should I say, Max’s’ grandnephew the summer of 2019. Evidently Josephine McCoy had written it from Lusk, WY and mailed it to Max’s brother, whom she believed was the sheriff of Heber City, UT. According to what the society learned there has never been a Fraughton who was the sheriff of that town.It looks like Max might have assumed his Barney McCoy alias from the song after all.

I called the very small town of Lusk, WY but they had no record of her living there and the 1940 census did not include her name in the WY census. I also looked for Mrs. Aster in the GL 1930 US census but did not locate her name.

Lusk, Wyoming
August 1932

Mr. Fraughton
Sheriff, Heber City, Utah

My dear Mr. Fraughton

Tonite I received a phone call from Mrs. Aster at Grand Lake informing me that you had been in Grand Lake checking up on your brother.  The man I have been living with as his wife since December 24th, 1928.  I knew him as Barney McCoy.  But I knew little of his history.  He was fair to me in so much as he told me McCoy was not his correct name.  Before we decided to make our arrangement permanent, he told me he had been in a “jam”, and that he was an escaped convict.  But that made no difference to me.  I never pressed him for particulars because I knew the horror he had of having to go back, and if I didn’t know his name or the location in which his crime was committed I couldn’t ever tell, and cause him any trouble.  He told me tho, that he did not commit the crime that he plead “guilty” to.

I don’t know what the people of G.L. said about us, the way we lived or anything else.  But I am sure that if you could have known our home life you would have seen that we were all to one another.  He made me happy, and I know he was happy with me.

During the years we were together he spoke some of his early life, and told me disconnected things about his war record.  Last winter, as you have probably been told, we were snowed in at the cabin we called “Trails End”.  Perhaps some one took you up to our little home, I hope so.  He spoke so much of Utah and the Mormon people this winter.  He also, I planned a trip over there thru that state and he said he would gather up the threads, and then I would know all about him.  Also he said we would be married in “his” church.  But something bigger than we were stopped all that.  He died so suddenly.  One thing he always told me to remember and get his finger prints if something did (happen to him.)

I asked the corner to make a list of all the marks of identification anywhere on his body, together with his fingerprints, but when I asked for this I was told the original had gone in thru the American Legion to the War Office in Washington, D.C. and that there was no duplicate or copy.  You see I had no money and my job here was waiting.  I couldn’t stick around and wait or fight.  So I had to be content with writing what I know to the genealogy Dept of his church and wait for the Legion to make their investigation.  I imagine you have been told how the whole business as the time of Barney’s killing was messed up.  When I got to the morgue 36 hrs after he was killed his face hadn’t even been washed.  Then I couldn’t have any of the things he had in …..  (maybe half of the page was not recorded)

…a sherriff somewhere but never said where.  He said you were like his father.  Big – not a little runt like him.  He also spoke of a sister who had some pretty children.  I thot someway that you lived in Wyoming.  Barney told me that the place he escaped from had “contract labour” and he had to work in a shirt factory.  I knew Wyoming had such an arrangement in Rollins.  I made inquiries at Cheyenne for a sheriff by the name of Fraughton, but Mr. Carroll said there had been none in any county by that name for the past 12 years.  I found Barney scribbling “Max K Fraughton” over and over on a piece of paper one day, and when I asked him what he was doing he said “Just writing a name I like”

You know I suppose the identifying marks on his body – if not I can send you a list.  He had M.K.F. on his left leg just above the knee and he once told me that was the oldest of his tattoos.  That’s what made me connect the name he had written with the initials.

Now I was and am very anxious to make a contact with any of Barney’s people, and naturally if I am entitled to any govt. compensation I need and want that, but I would rather do without a dime from that source than to drag his name thru the mud, and blacken it by going thru the Dept of Justice to establish his identity.  I suppose everyone told you about his…. Know and understand that he was not a drunk.  He was the kindest and most loving and considerate man that ever lived.  All ways doing something for others.  I spent nearly six years of complete happiness with him.  We loved one another.  We never had a baby.  Once we thot we were, but the good God thot otherwise.  I was terribly sick and we lost it.  Mac was brokenhearted over it.  But as things are now it must have been all for the best.  The last 2½ years Barney had not been well.  Last summer he had a cancer removed from his jaw, and he never was the same.

Yes, he did everything they told you he did.  Illegal trapping and bootlegging, but he was not physically able to work.  And we had to live.  He made me a living and looking back on our life with each other I realize that our six years together mean more than some married people 60.  For he had no outside activities or interest, and I gave up any and all of mine, and he more than made up in his love for me.  We were happy – But he had that dread of something that kept getting bigger all the time and he wasn’t well; he was afraid of another cancer.  The shell-shocked condition of his made him brood over these things more all the time.  Brother mine, I have seen him lie with his eyes shut and the tears dripping from under the closed lids.  When I asked him “why”, he used to say “I am no good to myself and a …………………….

….thru Sunday nite Aug 22 at 9 o’clock and I’ll be at the phone office.  I do wish I could have met you.  But I have not the money to make the trip to Heber City.  I am going to G.L. with 5 people that want a weeks’ vacation, and they are paying my expenses for the use of my little cabin for 9 days.  I have to be here in Lusk, Wyo on my job the 1st of Sept.  Its only board and room, but thats something in this day and age of the depression.  Perhaps we could set a place midway of GL and Heber City, where we could meet and talk “our family” over.  Did you see the place where I put him?  Isn’t it beautiful?

If you have succeeded in establishing Barney’s identity, I suppose the next thing is to establish mine as his wife.  We lived as man & wife since 12 – 1928 and the couple that were with us that nite we claimed we were such for the first time, can be got at, and are more than ready to sign acknowledgments.

Its queer to think McCoy as a name does not belong to us.  But names don’t matter after all.  He was a man, the man that brot heaven nearer to me than it ever ever came before.  My own Barney –

This letter is long and disconnected but I want you to understand I’d rather never have a dime as long as I live than to think the memory our friends have of him should be replaced……….


2016 GLAHS Newsletter



Searching for Grand Lake’s Colonel Thomas Norton Gimperling

My journey started September 2010 when my Grand Lake neighbor, Bob Jackson gave me an old padlock. The lock had been left behind when the Ferry family had sold him their south shore lake cottage in 1996. In its place, Bob and Mary Ann built one of the nicer new log homes on the lake. The tag on the old lock had written on one side: T.N. Gimperling, Grand Lake, Colorado, and stamped G. A. Spitzmiller, Grand Lake, Colo….

Click on each page below to see a larger image to read the newsletter and the rest of my Gimperling story.

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If you would like to read more of Steve’s Col. Gimperling’s journey just follow this URL.

Also Coming Up…

Wednesday, July 8th 7:00 pmFree GLAHS Annual Meeting and Community Presentation at the GL Community House Hoppe Southway will regale us with the history, and his stories and tales of the Southway Lodge, followed by a brief intermission for treats and then the annual meeting for GLAHS members. The Southway Lodge was still operating in this 1969 advertisement. Can you figure out what the building is used for today?


Saturday, June 25th 5:30 pm – @9:00 pm Souper Stars for the Cottage Camp – This delightful event has a new location this year, high on a hill with an “out-of-this-world” view!

Entertainment by Tight Like That, four kinds of amazing soups and all the extras, live auction, adult beverages, and great company! $50 All proceeds benefit the Cottage Camp Campaign. For information, to receive a written invitation including directions to the venue, or to RESERVE, 970-627-8324 or

Tuesday, July 19th 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Victorian Tea at the The Historic Rapids Lodge – Bring your own or borrow one of our hats! $20 To RESERVE, 970-627-8324 ,, or call the Rapids at 970-627-3707.





Vintage Time Traveler’s Campfire

The Invitation:

The GLAHS is busy preparing for the August 24th Model T Vintage Time Travelers Campfire and Chicken Dinner at the Cottage Court site. It will be great fun – old-timey music, storytelling, and delicious food as we celebrate the Centennial of our National Park and give the Ts a great send off as they begin their reenactment of the 1920 Park-to-Park Trek. They’re not many, but these are some brave and hardy Model T owners taking this on. The first folks attempting a tour of 12 National Parks in 1920 had to deal with crummy roads. Today it’s no easier. Really, where does one go for a quick repair on a Model T? We’ll wish them all our best and have fun looking at their automobiles!

The event was a complete success. Lots of folks showed up to enjoy seeing the vintage cars, visiting with their owners, listening to the songs, music, and eating lots of fried chicken.

The following are several of the photos taken at the campfire. Just click on the photo to see a larger version.

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2015 GLAHS Newsletter


Click on each of the seven pages below to see a larger image and read the newsletter.

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July 2nd GLYC Event


What’s New at the GLAH Society 2015?

P.O. Box 656 Grand Lake, CO  80447   Facebook:Smith-Eslick Cottage Court

Volunteers Needed
…and Adored!
As soon as the weather starts to look a bit like Spring, we at the Historical Society begin thinking of all the projects soon to come. Please consider giving us a much needed hand:
* Docents are needed at the Kauffman House Museum, open daily 11:00am – 5:00pm beginning May 23rd.  Each docent works with a partner for a three-hour shift per week. We’ll help you learn what to do, and can guarantee you’ll learn more about area history and host many happy visitors!  Give us a call at 970-627-8324 or for more information.
* Lots of special events are planned for this summer, celebrating the Centennial of Rocky Mountain National Park and the beginning of the Smith Eslick Cottage Court as well. In particular, a huge party – campfire, storytelling, music, old-fashioned chicken dinner, and more – is in the planning stages for August 24th, when the Model-T Vintage Time Travelers come to camp at the Cottage Camp and begin their re-enactment of the 1920 Park-to-Park Trek. We’ll need lots of folks helping for this one!  Give us a call at 970-627-8324 or for more information.
* In April we’re installing a large TV flat screen and touch screen set up in the Gallery of the Kauffman House. This has been planned for quite a while, and is made possible by memorial donations in honor of Dorothy O’Donnell O’Ryan. We’ll be looking for folks who’d like to help prepare content – films, “power point” types of information , all sorts of net stuff reflecting historical topics of interest. If you’d like to help or learn with us, give us a call at 970-627-8324 or for more information.
Attached is a little brochure we used when we recruited volunteers at a recent Middle Park HS event. Lots more ideas for volunteer work! We have fun and passion, so hope you can join us! THANKS to all those who already volunteer. You are the very soul of this group.

Mark Your Calendar!
On Wednesday, June 10th, character actor Kurtis Kelly will portray Freelan O. Stanley. Stanley and his brother owned the Stanley Motor Carriage Company and introduced the Stanley Steamer to Rocky Mountain National Park. That helped development of roads and automobile tourism through the park and into Grand Lake. Everyone tells us that Kurtis Kelly is “spot-on” as F.O. Stanley, so we are indeed looking forward to his presentation.
The program starts at 7:00pm, in the Grand Lake Community House. It’s free, and treats are included. The GLAHS Members’ Annual Meeting will follow the presentation. See you there!

If you would like to get involved with a fun project at GLAHS take a look at the following images. Just click on the image and it will magically enlarge to its original size.

Events Plans… Mark Your Calendar
Kauffman House Museum opens for the season May 23rd   11:00am – 5:00pm daily  Come see the wonderful, kid friendly West Side of RMNP exhibits and watch the House’s exterior log and chinking repairs in progress!   Adults $5.00, Free to Children 12 and Younger, GLAHS Members
June 10th   Historical Society Annual Meeting, open to everyone   Community House  7:00pm  Free.
July 2nd    Victorian Tea at the Rapids Lodge   2:00pm – 4:00  $20  Watch for more information.
July 31st   2nd Annual Souper Stars for the Cottage Camp at the Ludwig’s Home   5:30pm – @8:30pm
Watch for more information.
August 24th   Vintage Time Travelers Model T Club begins its reenactment of the 1920 Park-to-Park trek with a campout at the Cottage Camp. We’ll celebrate with an all-Town party: chicken dinner, campfires and stories and song!  Watch for more information.
Want to Help?
There’s so much to be done to make these sorts of events the huge successes and community-builders we want them to be. We would love to have your ideas and energy be part of the process. Please call us (970-627-8324) or e-mail, and we’ll send you more info … meeting dates and the like…. so you can join our slightly zany team, and THANKS!
Huge Thanks for Your Support
The Board of Directors wishes to express sincere thanks and appreciation for donations in support of the work of the Grand Lake Area Historical Society and the Cottage Camp project.