The character, stamina and aspirations of a community are often fully typified by its public officials, and, tried by this standard, Garfield county, this state, may claim a high place in the public estimation if its clerk and recorder, William Cardnell, be taken as the standard of judgment. In enterprise, progressiveness, breadth of view and public-spirit in reference to commercial, industrial and public affairs, in scholarship and general capacity, in knowledge of men acquired in a long and varied experience among them under widely different circumstances, and in uprightness and fidelity to duty, he is easily one of the first men in the county and a representative of its best citizenship and most worthy ambitions. And what he is may be accounted all the more to his credit because he is largely a self-made man, the product of his own natural abilities and characteristics without extraneous aid of moment or the help of fortuitous circumstances. He was born in Essex county, England, on December 11, 1842, the son of William and Emily G. (Waters) Cardnell, the former born in Essex county and the latter in Kent, England. The father was a baker and confectioner and made a good living for his family at the business. His wife was what is known as a “Hard Shell Baptist.” They were the parents of seven children, five of whom are living, William being the oldest son. Both parents are dead. William attended the common or national schools two years, then was for a short time at an academy and a private school. At the age of thirteen he shipped as a cabin boy on a trading vessel and passed two years at sea on ships hailing from various ports in England, and to ports on the continent. Afterwards he made his home with his uncle, Robert Waters, manager for W.H Smith & Son, of London, prominent publishers and printers, who employed one thousand men, the son becoming subsequently the well known first lord of the admiralty, some of whose characteristics were depicted in the burlesque “His Majesty’s Ship, Pinafore.” Mr. Cardnell served three years as an apprentice in the mechanical part of the printing department, then came to New York and enlisted in the Fourteenth New York Cavalry, and served one year under Generals Butler, Banks and Canby on the Red River expedition and other parts of the South, but being ill and incapacitated from service in consequence of hardships endured on the memorable retreat he was honorably discharged, and returned to New York. He next appeared at Leavenworth, Kansas, where he conducted a printing business. In 1872 he first came to Colorado and located at Denver. Here he had a printing plant on Blake street and carried on the same business. Soon after starting the enterprise in the capital city, he left the business in charge of his foreman and joined the memorable diamond and gold expedition to Arizona and New Mexico. In this success was alternating, but not satisfactory, and he established the first newspaper published at Silver City, New Mexico, and remained in the territory ten years. Since the Civil war he has passed the whole of his life on the frontier. In his experience as gold hunter in Arizona he acquired a knowledge of Indian customs and languages and became acquainted with Cachise, [sic] Victoria and other chiefs of the great Apache nation. This acquaintance was of value in preventing hostilities between the Apaches and the gold hunters, as, though encounters were many times threatened by the Indians under him, a compromise was always effected through Mr. Cardnell. The party with which he went into Arizona was the first large one that entered that territory. It had six months’ supplies and a large outfit of mining tools, which were carried on thirty-six pack animals, and no white men were seen in several months’ time. After eight months’ hard labor on this expedition he started the newspaper in Silver City. After this he learned the profession of a metallurgist in one of the reduction works and became superintendent of a mill for reducing ores, located in Silver City, eight hundred miles from the nearest railroad station. In this position he was employed five years, then returned to Denver and from there moved to Glenwood Springs in 1886, arriving on April 6th. He at once became manager and editor of the Glenwood Echo. In 1890 he bought the Daily Republican. The publication of this he continued four years as a weekly paper, changing its name to the People’s Herald, a weekly People’s party paper, severing his connection with it in 1896, by sale of the plant to the Carbondale Item. During this period he had some mining interests and served as an assayer, winning a high reputation in the business as an expert. In 1899 he was a candidate for county clerk and recorder on the Populist ticket and was elected to the office by a large majority, and in 1901 he was re-elected as the candidate of the Democratic and Populist parties. He was again re-elected on the Democratic ticket for a third term November 8, 1904. In 1872 he was married at Denver to Miss Fannie Crispin, a native of London, Ontario, Canada. They had four children, three of whom are living, Emily, the wife of F.C. Ewing, druggist of Glenwood Springs; William G. and Herbert E. This wife died in 1882, and on June 14, 1883, he married her sister, Mrs. Susan (Crispin) Korn. They were daughters of George and Annie (Frost) Crispin, who were born in England and soon after their marriage moved to Canada, where the father was a promoter and builder. Both are now deceased. They belonged to the Episcopal church and stood high in their community.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.