Going, going … the gold badge engraved with the initials of John Muehlhausen, Cripple Creek sheriff from 1908-11, could be gone soon. Catalogued by …
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Going, going … the gold badge engraved with the initials of John
Muehlhausen, Cripple Creek sheriff from 1908-11, could be gone
Catalogued by an auction house in Reno, Nev. with an estimated
value of $12,500, the badge represents the county's gold-mining
days of the early 1900s.
"I guess I'm putting out a plea to anybody out there who is
interested or concerned as I am about keeping a piece of our
history here," said Teller County Sheriff Kevin
The badge represents a period that ushered in the Colorado Gold
Rush, a time marked by violence, murders and labor wars involving
the Western Federation of Miners.
According to information supplied by the auction house,
Muehlhausen, a resident of Victor, succeeded Henry Von Puhl, an
assayer in Cripple Creek. David Kingston served as Cripple Creek's
The sheriff's job at the time was hazardous, one of the toughest
jobs in the West. Organized crime carried out by mine labor groups,
particularly the Western Federation of Miners, made national news
as early as 1894.
With huge production of gold beginning to pour from the mines of
Cripple Creek, the money from the gold mine brought jobs as well as
a miners' union.
After the initial strike, mine owners and some union members
were driven from town. To protect themselves, the owners brought in
outsiders, financing much of the county's law
In 1903, violence again erupted in Cripple Creek and Gov. James
Peabody called out the National Guard to protect the populace, with
the goal of destroying union power in the gold camps.
This precipitated the Colorado labor wars, which ran over into
Idaho and Nevada. Idaho's former governor was murdered by the
Western Federation of Miners, and in Goldfield, Nev., mine-union
strikers threatened the town.
In Cripple Creek, the miners threatened to lynch Sheriff Henry
Robertson if he didn't resign. When
the crowd produced a hangman's noose, Robertson resigned on the
spot. Ed Bell succeeded Robertson and served until 1908. Bell,
along with the governor and federal troops, is credited with
running the federation out of town permanently.
Muehlhausen was elected in 1908 and given the badge engraved
with his initials on the front, and on the reverse, the words,
"Presented by L. Caro January 21, 1911."
Not much is known about either man. However, the badge
represents one of the most tumultuous times in the United
The badge is in fine condition, with bright yellow-red gold and
blue enameled letters, and is probably the product of Cripple Creek
gold and arguably the top lawman's badge from Colorado known
"This is Teller County history that I feel shouldn't be bought
by some unknown person who has no connection to the county,"
Dougherty said. "I can't let this slip through. If we could get
enough interest in the badge, we could bring it back here. I'd like
to see this badge sitting in one of our local museums."
The badge will be listed in the catalogue of Holabird-Kagin
Americana in Reno, Nev. Amy Baker, with the auction house, said the
badge could be reserved with a down payment and a payment
"If the badge doesn't sell from the catalogue the price will
probably go down in 60 days," Baker said.
For information, call the sheriff's office at 719-687-9652 or
the auction house at 775-852-8822.
719-687-3006 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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