This Week in Colorado History January 24- January 30: Things to think on

Though the Internet has certainly hastened the spread of useless information to contemplate, it hardly caused the phenomena. The Colorado Transcript of January 23, 1900, ran an article featuring a variety of interesting, though perhaps impractical, statistics. According to expert M. Alfred Arkas, people, regardless of education level, speak 11,800,000 words every year. Over the course of a lifetime, a total of about one year and five months is spent speaking. Much to the surprise of the Transcript, about the same amount of time is spent thinking. The paper commented that this, “[G]ives one a new idea of the value of what ought to be attached to every man’s utterance.”  The article also reported that humans shake hands 1,200 times a year and raise their eyelids about 94,600,000 times per year. For those few still searching for a unique New Year’s resolution, perhaps these statistics will provide some ideas. No one else will resolve to decrease the number of eyelid raises from 94,600,000 to 94,500,000.

On a much more serious note, Jefferson County mourned the loss of one of its employees this week in 1900 when Canon City penitentiary night captain William C. Rooney was killed by a group of escaping prisoners. The Transcript vividly describes the alleged perpetrators as, “Antone Wood, the boy murderer, Kid Wallace, train robber, and C.E. Wagner and Thomas Reynolds, burglars… [who] comprised the boiler gang.” The men stabbed Rooney with a butcher knife six times before searching for his keys and escaping over a wall. As of the next day, when the Transcript was published, the fugitives were still at large and Rooney’s remains were en route to his sister, Mrs. J. M. Johnson Jr., for a funeral in Golden.

Although the plight of William C. Rooney was unfortunate, it did offer the citizens of Golden a moral. When news reports of the jailbreak and murder reached Golden, the name of the guard was not known. To quote the Transcript, “Then some one who did not know that any Golden man other than L.B. West had a position there, told somebody else that Les West had been killed down at the pen. This rumor was pretty well circulated by the time the morning papers arrived, giving the details.” Even the most gruesome incident can be given a moral – one should not share facts of which one is not certain.

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