Biography of James T. Hunter

James T. Hunter, who is now conducting an active and profitable livery business at Rifle, Garfield county, has had a varied and interesting career in the West and has profited by his experiences, learning much of the best business methods for this portion of the land and of the men who live and labor in it. He was born on February 25, 1834, in Washington county, Missouri, where his father, John A. Hunter, a native of Virginia, was an early settler, and his mother, whose maiden name was Martha A. Talbott, was a native. The father in his early manhood was a merchant. Then for a number of years he was a miller on the Missouri river, and the latter portion of his life was devoted to farming. Politically he supported the Republican party and fraternally was connected with the Masonic order. Both he and his wife were strict Baptists in church relations. They had a family of eight children, of whom but three are living, James T., Jennie E., wife of John Amouett, of Washington county, Missouri, and William T., a resident of the same county. Mr. Hunter’s educational advantages were limited. In 1849, when he was but sixteen, he accompanied his father on a trip to California in which they spent five months in driving a five-yoke bull team across the plains and mountains from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Hangtown, in the former state. There they were prosperously employed in placer mining until the first great flood experienced by the whites in that country swept everything away in 1852. The father then returned to Missouri and the son turned his attention to freighting between Stockton and the mines, continuing in this occupation with varying success until 1864. Then with two eight-mule teams he went to Idaho. After his arrival there he made a freighting expedition to Salt Lake City, and when he reached that place he determined to remain for awhile, and so started a livery business which he carried on until January 1, 1865, at which time he sold out to four Eastern speculators for a consideration of one thousand two hundred dollars and moved to Boise. The snow blocked the roads badly, but he succeeded in reaching his destination in fourteen days. Then finding the snow so bad all around him, he gave up the idea of returning and passed the winter in freighting between Boise and Idaho City. Returning to Salt Lake in the spring, he again engaged in the livery business and continued in it until his establishment was destroyed by fire. Hearing at this time of the White Pine gold excitement in the vicinity of Austin, he opened an eating house station thirty miles east of that town. This he conducted until the Union Pacific was built through the section, when he sold out and moved eighty miles farther east and started again in the same business, and in addition managed a toll road over Diamond mountain. About this time the Eureka mining camp opened up and Mr. Hunter became very busy supplying the miners with food. After the town was located he took up a ranch two miles and a half from the place and also invested in town lots which he afterward sold at a good profit. He started a livery business there and kept it going until 1872, when he returned to his Missouri home and gave his attention to farming in that state until the Lake City mining excitement broke out in this state. Then, with a carload of mules, he came to Colorado and located at Denver. He made a number of trips to Lake City and met with much success. Moving to Cheyenne, Wyoming, he freighted for a time between that town and Fort Fetterman, on the North Platte, after which he did hauling for the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies. Next he took a contract for grading in the interest of the Colorado Central Railroad in 1876, and had thirty teams at work. Later he sold his outfit to the railroad company and moved fifteen miles west of Denver, where he managed a ranch for his sister until 1885. In that year, with three hundred head of cattle and twenty horses, he moved to the Mam [sic] creek region in Garfield county and purchased of Emanuel and John Gant a squatter’s claim to one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he afterward increased to four hundred acres. He improved the ranch and on it conducted a thriving ranching and cattle industry until July 13, 1903, when he disposed of his interests to John A. Stephens, and since then he has been engaged in the livery business at Rifle. In political matters Mr. Hunter is independent and takes no special interest. On August 7, 1865, he was married to Miss Minnie A. Miller, a native of Iowa, the daughter of James and Rose Ann (Sharp) Miller, Pennsylvanians by birth, who settled in Iowa when they were young and after some years moved to Colorado. In 1864 they changed their residence to Salt Lake, and in 1866 to Nevada, where they conducted a hotel until they moved to California, where both died. Mr. and Mrs. Hunter have had eight children, of whom Fannie, John, Robert, James, Olive, and an infant have died, and John F. and Robert H. are living, the latter in British Columbia.


Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.


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