Juicy Gossip

Some people may argue that nothing exciting nor scandalous has ever happened in Fountain, and they are entitled to their memories.  Others however have been open to share tales of ghosts, moonshine and murder.

Weekly Gazette June 2, 1904

Cronin is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.  He served in Company F 46th USVI.

Contents: Eugenia Lucera - oldest woman, Fairview Cemetery and the unknown grave, Van Endert and Hastings murders, Countryside ghosts, Robert Scotland murder, Anna Pettengill's death, Spicer murder, Mayor Kane and the abortionist, the Ark ghosts, Johnny Lindamood murder of 1920, the hanging of Wild Bill

Mrs. Eugenia Lucera was said to be the oldest woman in the county in 1937.  She was born in about 1833 and had been kidnapped by the "Bloody Espinosa Brothers" in the roaring 60s.

Two tales of murder are linked to Fountain's Fairview Cemetery.

There is an oral history that the grave encircled by two chains is that of a murderer.  After talking to the cemetery caretaker, we decided that no grave had two chains encircling it today, but that the monument for William Van Endert probably had them in the past.  Given that he was murdered in 1874, that may be how the story evolved.  

Rocky Mt News Oct 16. 1874
William owned a ranch on the mesa west of Fountain, where Fort Carson is today.  Newspaper articles from the day report that he came home one day to find his ranch hand flirting with Mrs. Van Endert.  A fight ensued and William was killed.  The murderer was acquitted of the charges.

Mary Van Endert remarried to Frank Price in 1875


Fountain is an old town, and it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that ghosts reside here as well. One resident of the Countryside subdivisions thought she was seeing a shadow walk across the room out of the corner of her eye. Mary said “When I saw my dog lift her head and follow the shadow as well, then I realized I wasn’t just seeing things.” Interesting huh?

Whenever there is digging near Countryside, the area residents begin to complain about three ghosts: an old man, a young woman and a little girl.

People report that the old man just walks around looking grumpy. You turn around and there he is. Mary’s son was recently scared after finding the old man in his closet, and now he walks around putting the lights on everywhere. He is getting over it, but it was still freaky to him.

From what neighbors have told Mary, the young woman looks sad. Some people recognize her “Little House on the Prairie” looking clothes.  Some say her dress is blue, and others white. Some report her bonnet as very recognizable, but others have said that she has no hat and that her hair is in a bun. So there might be two women, or perhaps the ghost woman changes clothes and sometimes fixes her hair up a bit.

The little girl is the most active, and is often seen running through houses in the area. This freaks people out, Mary said, when they realize that it wasn’t their child running around because their kids can’t run through closed doors and walls.

The ghosts have been reported as appearing both day and night, though mostly in the daytime while construction work is going on. This seems to bother them. No one knows who the ghosts are or if they are related to each other. Mary’s guess is that they were pioneers moving west who died here. She said “No one alive today knows who they are. I wish we did, so we could honor them and their lives. But then again, they might just want us to let them rest…”.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, 4/30/1889

The little city of Fountain, ten miles south of Colorado Springs, was the scene of one of the most cold-blooded murders on Sunday night that has ever disgraced the history of Colorado. Adolph S. Hastings, night operator at the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe depot, was shot and killed by unknown parties, the object undoubtedly was murder. Shortly after 2 o’clock Monday morning the night operator at the depot in Colorado Springs received a dispatch recounting the above facts and asking that Sheriff Jackson be informed. He immediately on being informed started for the scene of the crime, and later in the day Coroner Davis left for Fountain and began his investigation. The facts are very meager and are as follows. A few minutes after 2 o’clock on Sunday night Mr. J.C. Denny, proprietor of the Brunswick Hotel at Fountain and also agent of the A.T.& S.F. railroad, was awakened by someone calling to him at his bedroom window, “Denny, oh, Denny.” He asked who was there and then recognized the voice of his assistant, Hastings, saying, “I am shot.”

He got up and went outside where he found Hastings just sinking down beside his window. He picked him up and assisted by his wife got him into the hotel. Mr. Denny immediately sent for medical assistance and began to question Hastings about the shooting. His replies were somewhat incoherent and shed little light upon the affair. He said “they tried to hold me up” and asked Mr. Denny if he died to write to Mr. Wright at Tappan, Ohio. To the question “who held you up?” he replied, “a man,” but did not know who he was.  After asking Mr. Denny for a drink of water he expired, having been in the hotel only a few minutes. He had a bullet hole through the body, which   entered the back on the right side and came out at the right breast. The range of the bullet was upward. Mr. Denny accompanied by Constable J.W. Patton and three other citizens, they took lanterns and immediately started for the depot, about a two and a half minute walk from the hotel. During the night a slight snow had fallen and Hastings footprints could be easily followed. Arriving at the depot they found the doors all open and Hastings bunch of keys in the open cash drawer. Papers were scattered about the desk and showed that the place had been hastily ransacked. In the drawer was $1.05, while Mr. Denny had left $5.20 in change when he quit work at 7:00 o’clock showing that $4.15 had been taken. A check for $249.75 was left lying on the desk. On the floor of the waiting room of the little depot was found a bullet, evidently from a 38 revolver. It was battered and had made a dent in the door leading to the operating room after passing through Hastings body. A close investigation of the premises was made but the only revelations served to throw a complete mystery over the murder. The footprints  in the snow showing that two men beside Hastings had been about the depot. One of them wore what is thought to have been a number 10 shoe and the other a number 8, while the deceased wore a shoe much smaller than each of them. The footprints showed where the men had stood at the window to look into the operating room and also where they had gone into the coal house, but were no tracks leading away from the building other than those made by Hastings.
An examination of the train register, which is kept by the operator, showed that he had reported train No. 31 a north bound passenger, to the dispatcher at Pueblo as having arrived at 2:05 a.m. He had also turned the signal lights after the train left. It was just fifteen minutes after 2 o’clock when Mr. Denny returned from summoning assistance after being aroused by Hastings, so that the shooting must have occurred within a very few minutes after No.31 had left the depot. These are the only facts in the case and all else is speculation. Hastings did not know the combination of the office safe, having refused to take it several times, and Mr. Denny believes he was killed because the robbers thought he was refusing to tell. In the safe was several hundred dollars.  That he was shot while in the stooping position is evident from the range of the bullet. Hastings pointed to his left hand pants pocket just before dying to show that it had been turned inside out.  The faithful fellow after being shot and robbed had only the one thought, to report to the chief. Immediately after receiving the news of the event yesterday morning Coroner Isaac Davis went to Fountain and began an investigation into the cause of Hastings death. He summoned the following jury: Will Hodges, foreman, W.A. Davis, F.B Ross, G.T. Phillips, F.N. Gustis, H.F. Bosworth, members.   The evidence of only four witnesses was taken, from which the above facts were gleaned. In hopes that other developments might follow, the jury, after consideration, adjourned to meet at Davis and Co’s undertaking rooms in Colorado Springs at 11 o’clock this morning. Hastings, the murdered man, was about 25 years of age, and has relatives at Tappan, Ohio. He has worked for Mr. Denny since last September, with the exception of a few weeks spent in Colorado Springs in January and February, when he relieved one of the operators at the Santa Fe depot. He was a very good looking young man and was neatly dressed. He was honest, upright, and very much liked by all who knew him. The remains were brought to Colorado Springs yesterday and prepared for burial. They will be taken to Fountain tomorrow and a service held over them, and if the friends at Tappan desire they will be sent to that place for interment.
The evidence was plain that here was only one motive for the murder- robbery.  The theory of course is that it was done by tramps, and Sheriff Jackson and his deputies were very busy all day yesterday scouring the country in search of the criminals.  From the words of the dying man as well as the footprints in the snow it is evident there was two of them. There was a rumor at the Santa Fe depot yesterday afternoon that two men had been taken near Pueblo under very suspicious circumstances, but at a late hour the Sheriff had not returned and the report could not be verified.  The Santa Fe Company has offered a reward of $200 for the apprehension of the murderers.
Robert Scotlan Murder

The Fountain case mystifies the Authorities
Fountain May 10, 1890. The coroner's jury completed its labors today in the matter of the inquest upon the body of the man found under the Denver & Rio Grande railroad bridge at this point Friday morning, and returned a verdict finding that the deceased came to his death from causes unknown to the jury, but recom-mending a strict investigation into the circumstances to the authorities. Sheriff jackson, Coroner Marlow and District Attorney Cochrane were in attendance. The body has been positively identified as that of Robert Scotlan, a Scotchman, who formerly worked on the section at this place. He left here March 25 for Pueblo. The circumstances point to the fact that a murder has been committed. HIs neck was broken. 

Projects of the Fountain Genealogy Class have included recording all the headstones from 1930 and earlier, and recording all the veterans markers in the summer of 2010. These have been posted on http://www.findagrave.com/

The cemetery is on land originally owned by the Imes Family. The earliest burials date from the early 1870s. One unmarked grave, enclosed by a wooden fence, is said to be that of a woman who died while her family was crossing the plains in the early 1860s. LG Niles constructed the fence, using wagon wheel hubs for several of the corners.  People continue to leave flowers here, but the woman's identity is not known.

Dorothy Boyd has a chart showing some grave lots in the cemetery.  The lot for the unidentified pioneer says "Unknown woman, 1862".

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Anna K. PETTENGILL was born on January 10, 1859 and died Mar 21, 1896.  She is buried at Fairview Cemetery. 


After the discovery of Spicer's murder confession, and subsequent newspaper articles, a few in the community wanted to share their own ties to the history of John Spicer, as reported in a SA&FV News article on March 19, 2008.

Billy Jean Williams Miles explained that in 1859 there were three founding settlers in Fountain: Amos and Mary Terrell, Tom Owens, and Mathias and Barbara Gruber Lock, the mother of Hovena Lock who married John Spicer.  Miles said that Spicer had a weakness for drinking and that the marriage was not a tranquil one, though he was a good man until he succumbed to alcoholism.  Their oldest daughter Marguerite wrote a book on Herman Gruber and his descendants and gave details on her parents.  In 1885 John was working as a stable hand in Fountain when he married Hovena Lock. He was said to have led Theodore Roosevelt on a bear hunting trip in Colorado.  After they separated, Hovena ran a cafe in town, its name unknown.
Hovena Lock Spicer

The plaque bearing John Spicer's murder confession is housed at the Fountain Historical Society Museum.

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Mayor Kane Cleans Up Fountain

When Wanden Kane was elected Mayor of Fountain in 1942, she took several women's issues to heart.  She fought for the pasteurization of milk, since at the time raw milk was being delivered, sometimes capped with little more than toilet paper.  Several cases of scarlet fever were linked to the milk.

Kane opened a well-baby clinic in town, and she helped a public nurse treat women and children.  During the war, gas was rationed and many women were unable to go to doctors in the Springs.  When symptoms warranted it, Kane drove them there herself.  Specialists were brought in from the Springs to screen all the school age children for rheumatic fever and heart disease.

Construction crews had been hired to build a septic system for the town, and the crews were followed by "concubines on wheels".  Mrs. Kane passed an ordinance outlawing trailers in town, since there was no sewer system for them to empty into, thus removing the concubines.

Because it was close to the Army base, Fountain also had a problem with VD, and a clinic was opened.  During its operation, a major from Camp Carson would come to town every two weeks with a list of names.  Together, he and Wanden worked to see that everyone on that list got treatment.  For girls in Fountain who refused treatment, Mrs. Kane said she had them jailed.  And she was surprised to see that the average age of the girls being treated was under 16.

But perhaps the change that Mrs. Kane is best known for is her showdown with Edith Halcomb, who was running an abortion clinic out of her house in town.  In a Jan 11, 1981 Gazette Telegraph article, Mrs. Kane said that the two elderly gentlemen who made up the town's police force couldn't deal with the problem, so she did.  Kane went to see Mrs. Halcomb, mentioned her connections to the Governor, and promised that if Edith was arrested in Fountain, she would never get out of jail again.  Halcomb moved her business to Pueblo, much to their dismay.

A Gazette Telegraph article (1-6-1949) details the recent arrest of Mrs. Halcomb in Pueblo for performing abortions.  It mentions that she had been acquitted of murder charges in at least three other cases since 1927, where the women had died from infection.

While doing interviews with long-time town residents, other details about Edith Halcomb's operation in town surfaced.  Her antique store was known as the Ark, and the grand old house on South Main Street is still referred to by that name.

Mary Baker, who was born in Fountain in 1935, was forbidden to go near the Ark.  So of course she and her girlfriend had to find out what all the fuss was about!  They were peering in the windows one day, admiring all the beautiful toy dolls and antiques, when a woman came to the door and let them in.  Mary remembered many beautiful things.  She later learned what went on in that house, and why her parents had forbidden her to go there.

Mary Kraus, born in the Springs in 1950, remembered staying overnight in the Ark with a girlfriend.  She had heard that the house was haunted, and one girl reported seeing faces among the fireplace flames.

This last story comes from Sheila Hight Earp, who moved into "The Ark" with her parents in 1958, when she was 10 years old.  The Hights lived on Walnut Street in Fountain, and Mrs. Hight saw the big white house on south Main Street she feel in love with it.  She contacted the realtor, and the negotiations were handled over the phone with the owner, a man who lived in California.  His parents had owned the house; they were both doctors who were later jailed for performing abortions.  The family loved the house, but they decided that something odd went on in the northwest bedroom.  It was painted black- the walls, the floor, the ceiling and the windows.  There were three other bedrooms upstairs, a bath and an attic.

Sheila related that there were  four rooms on the 1st floor - a living room, kitchen, dining room and a bath.  There was a trap door in the living room floor that went to the basement.  Her father recalls that the outer walls on the 1st floor were 24 inches thick, and that the living room was huge.  The walls were covered with burlap cloth which made it difficult to paint, as the cloth just soaked up the paint.  The ceilings downstairs are very high.

Mrs. Hight enjoyed the garden around the house, which at the time was beautiful.  There were poplars and a cherry tree along the north fence and a rose garden out back.  She told Sheila that after hearing the stories about abortions, she was afraid to dig too deep in the yard, afraid she might find a body of someone.  Funny how your imagination can play tricks on you. 

Sheila wrote "One strange thing that happened quite often in that house was real.  The door to the attic would not stay locked.  You would be downstairs and hear the creaking sound of a door opening, and go upstairs and it would be open.  People also said they heard piano music coming from the basement, but the piano was in pieces hanging from the ceiling in the basement."  One other memory was that the little hill behind the house was called Holcomb Hill, though now it doesn't even look like a hill.  

When Sheila visited Fountain recently, she was quite dismayed to see the house she grew up in and loved in such a state of neglect.  Perhaps preserving the stories and memories of this grand old house will help in the preservation of the structure as well.

The house at 313 S Main, commonly known as the Ark, was recorded as part of the county-wide inventory of historic buildings in 1976 by Andrew Gulliford.  From interviews with Jerry Bentley and George McCoy, both who gave 313 S Main as their address, we learn that it was "originally a much smaller dwelling, probably of adobe, the second story was added later and is made of wood. Three large colonial columns grace the front of the house and face out into the garden, carefully shaded from noonday sun.  At one time the building was the old stage stop for traffic going south to Pueblo along old Pueblo Highway.  The trap door in the front room was probably added as a precaution against Indians. Also in the room, which probably served as eating quarters for travelers, is a large fireplace which has been made smaller."  The report notes that the house was later owned by a doctor who was performing abortions, and that he undoubtedly added the Greek nymphs along the roof.  The current occupants were trying to restore the adobe wall which ran along the property boundary and around the garden. 

These stories are said to have run in the Colorado Springs News
Friday, December 1, 1950
Unsolved Murder Mystery
One cold snowy winter night in 1920, Johnny Lindermood, the night marshal, set out to get a bunch of gamblers, who were to meet after the show. Johnny kissed his wife good-bye and told her not to get supper for him. Johnny took off trailing a fellow north. It was 9 o’clock when he got to the place of Bill Riddoch, who owned a lumber yard at the time. Johnny walked across the street, and was surprised by a man who was hiding behind a pole. Johnny was killed in cold blood. Bill said that all he heard was,” Oh my God, Oh my God!” These are said to be Johnny’s last words. When they found Johnny they let the blood hounds out to find the killer. They found that the killer went south on the railroad tracks and then came back to town. Later they lost his scent. Johnny Lindermood’s murder is still a mystery to Fountain. Johnny was the only night marshal killed in Fountain.
---Patricia Kane
A Shot Goes Wild
Bill Colbert was the next night marshal of the town of Fountain. He slept in the back room most of the time. One night when a Spanish man was slipping along behind the bank going home, Bill went to shoot, but the window fell and knocked the gun down as he pulled the trigger. The mark where the bullet went in is still there to see in the town clerk’s office. Sy Humphrey was night marshal after Bill Colbert. But Sy was smarter, or silly as you might think, for he walked up and down the street with a 30-30 rifle on his shoulder. But they never got him like they got poor Johnny Lindermood. Other night marshals of Fountain were Mr. Skinner, Mr. Higbee, and John Skinner Sr.  Mr. Armstrong is now our night marshal.----Patricia Kane

Dwight Haverkorn has investigated all of the early homicides in El Paso County, and his work Homicides of the Colorado Springs area, 1872 to present can be found in the Special Collections at Penrose Library.  My thanks to their staff for kindly providing a copy of the investigation conducted on the Lindamood murder.

John H. Lindamood's body was found on a Fountain street on the morning of April 8th, 1921.  Sheriff John Weir worked on two theories; one was that it was the work of bank robbers and second that it was a "local job" hatched by local gamblers and bootleggers who had sworn revenge against Lindamood's enforcement of the law.  Weir believed that a trio drove up to a filling station just across the street from the Fountain National Bank in a small car [this bank stood on the northeast corner of Main and Missouri].  One man crossed the street to the bank to look it over, but upon seeing the night marshall walking along the opposite side of Main street, ducked into the shadows.  Lindamood soon spotted him, but when he confronted the man, the murderer shot him. 
Former 1st National Bank
 The sheriff's office conducted an investigation, trying to tie this murder to other bank robberies in the area, and arresting at least one man.  But lacking evidence, no one was ever tried for Lindamood's murder.

John Lindamood was born in Ohio in 1876.  He was 45 years old at the time of his death, and left a wife Grace and a 12-year old son Maurice, who was crippled.  They were ensured a small income from the state compensation fund for officers.  Lindamood had reportedly turned in his resignation the day before his death.  Prior to becoming the night marshall, he had been a merchant in Deer Trail and in Fountain.  He worked as a marshall in Limon in 1910, and as a merchant in Denver in 1920.  The tall man at the center of the 1910s photo above was identified as Jack Lindamood; Jack is a common nickname for John.

An old Fountain story has to do with the exploits of a man called ”Wild Bill” who shot a Fountain resident, who however, was not killed. Wild Bill was hunted by the sheriff, who asked Tom Owen to assist him. The fugitive and Owen during the search found themselves in the same clump of trees and the fugitive said he would submit to arrest peaceably if Owen would see to it that he was not lynched. Owen promised.
The prisoner was taken to Buttes and every attempt made to save him for prosecution according to the law, but while he was being taken to Colorado City by a group of Fountain Valley men in a wagon, they left the wagon for some reason, and a moment later, so the story goes, a shot rang out and “Wild Bill” fell over dead.
Colorado Prospector Paper 1970s