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There are only a handful of drawings and photographs of the ranch when the Felch family lived there. The drawing above by Loretta Bailey presents an inviting picture of Marshall, Amanda, Sadie, Ned, and Emerson getting the wagon packed on a lovely morning.  The ranch buildings are long gone but the three round rocks in Loretta’s drawings are still with us today. They make it feel like it was just yesterday when the family was out and about in the yard. 

Things are never as perfect as they might seem and so in 1879 the marriage almost unravels but something holds it together. Perhaps the the three children were the glue holding the fragile relationship together.  For me the three rocks seem to be an allegory for the children standing solid in a traumatic time.  

The picture above of the clock tower was taken in 2015.  It is a historic replica of the central tower of the old courthouse where divorce papers were filed. The old courthouse located about two blocks north of this location at 3rd and main was torn town in the 1880’s.    

Loretta Bailey and I were skimming through the Amanda Felch folder down at the Royal Gorge Regional History Center in late October of 2015 when we found a one-page court filing stating that Amanda had filed for divorce from Marshall on June 20, 1879.  It was a bit of a shocker (to say the least) so with Loretta’s encouragement we went down the next day to the local courthouse where we took a number and waited our turn to approach the window.  When our number was called, we learned that they did not keep any records after a relatively short period of time sending them off to the Colorado State Archives at 1313 Sherman Street in Denver.

They gave us some contact information for that office and we sent in a request for information on November 17, 2015. A few days later, the state archivist Paul Levit reported that he was unable to find a divorce proceeding for Marshall and Amanda; “We have very little from Fremont County in the way of county government records. Have you tried contacting the clerk and recorder’s office?”

We had a pretty solid idea of what was here locally and considered a local option a dead end so we gave it one more try. We needed to know the answer to this most perplexing question.   I provided a few additional details but far more importantly, I attached a copy of what we had found at the history center.  Paul gleaned through that filing and found what he needed. The one document we had was from the 3rd District Court of Colorado.  In short order he found the hand-written file, copied it, and graciously returned it that very same day.  

We passed these along to Natalie Kinsey and Joan Alexander in Vermont and Joan soon transcribed them. It was a bittersweet moment, sort of like when someone in your family tells you about Aunt or Uncle so and so; “They seemed so nice when you had met them, who would have guessed”.  On the flip side, we all know the ugly things that get said in a divorce and the mean spiritedness that can carry a relationship down a hole that no one can get out of.  Natalie, Joan, Loretta, and I discussed this a lot over the next few years gradually achieving a better understanding about it. 

Ultimately we came to a couple of fairly solid ideas on what the problem actually was, as well as what was it that kept the family together. Loretta Bailey was doing volunteer work down at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and came across a most unexpected clue in the winter of 2015 and 2016.  She had walked past a photograph hanging in the hallway as long as she could remember, but one day she stopped and looked more closely at the photograph.  It showed 21 young women posing in Civil War West Point military uniforms at the Colorado Collegiate Military Academy. For the first time she read the names of the young women attending and about fell over when she saw one of them was Sarah (Sadie) Felch. This might not seem important until you put together when this occurred and how difficult it would be to accomplish under any circumstances; circumstances requiring a solid footing. 

Garden Park: “Nowhere in Comparison

Samuel Williston left Canon City by mid October of 1877 and soon began working at the Morrison quarries with Arthur Lakes. By early November that he was in ill health and returned to his home in Manhattan Kansas.  His time off wouldn’t last long.  Word arrived from Professor Marsh that he had a new assignment, after all he was one of Professor Marsh’s most trusted assistants. Williston somewhat reluctantly agreed and arrived in Como Bluffs on the 14th of November.  

Samuel met with two employees of the Union Pacific Railroad who had discovered and shipped dinosaur bones to Professor Marsh When Williston inspected the work area he announced in a letter to Marsh that “Canon City and Morrison are simply nowhere in comparison with this locality both in regards to perfection, accessibility, and quantity”.  

Como Bluffs 

Marsh was off to the races in the new Wyoming battlefield Como Bluffs (Ostrom and McIntosh 1999).  A number of quarries would be developed and those amazing discoveries are beautifully described in a number of books including Ostrum and McIntosh’s publication “Marsh’s Dinosaurs: The Collections from Como Bluffs“. 

Beginning in late 1877 and ending a dozen years later, at least 480 large boxes of dinosaur bones came from Como alone and a substantial amount of small mammal fossils were also collected.  Como Bluffs is an amazing paleontology and historic story described in a number of books. 

Hold On a Second

Ostrum and McIntosh commented about Williston’s statement of “nowhere in comparison” in their book “Marsh’s Dinosaurs – The Collections at Como Bluffs”; 

“Subsequent work by M.P. Felch at Canon City (Garden Park) proved this judgment to be premature.  Felch worked Quarry 1, Garden Park for five years and others worked it subsequently.  The total yield of this quarry rivaled any single quarry at Como and included most of Marsh’s Jurassic dinosaur skulls”. 

In later years, Charles Gilmore with the National Museum of Natural History would stress the significance of the articulation of three skeletons in particular originating from the Marsh Felch quarry and how they enabled a much better understanding of  these well known dinosaurs; Allosaurus fragilusCeratosaurus nasicornis, and Stegosaurus stenops

Canon City: The Late 1870’s 

This lithograph is from the 1882 bird’s-eye-view map of Cañon City shows that commercial development along Main Street focused on the area west of 6th Street(near the right).  The courthouse appears at the left edge of the map.  (Wellge 1882)

Canon City in the 1870’s 

Canon City grew from 229 in 1870 to 1,500 residents in 1880. The first train arrived in 1874 and by 1880 the line extended to Salida and Leadville. Marketing to tourists described; soda springs, marble caves, oil wells, fossil beds, scenery along Grape Creek, and the Royal Gorge, as it is now called.  There was even an omnibus running through town (trolley car pulled by horses). A newspaper report stated “Its streets present a decidedly business like appearance, being thronged constantly with people and wagons. Its hotels are overflowing, many having to seek accommodations in private houses”.  Gardens and orchards were being planted. Coal mines were being developed. The state penitentiary was being built on the west end of town where it remains today.  The first official school house was being built and would open in 1880.(Simmons and Simmons 2005)

The “choicest wines, liquors and cigars always on sale” were on sale at Murray’s Saloon. Down the street the McClure House opened as hotel. The grand opening of the McClure house in 1874 featured “lighted candles placed in every window of the building and parlors decorated with buntings”.(Simmons and Simmons 2005)

When Ida Steele Osgood arrived in Cañon City in 1879 she “found the population booming.  Silver discoveries in Leadville made Cañon City an important outfitting and supply center until the railroad tracks reached the Cloud City the following year.  After unloading the trains in town, freight was hauled to Leadville and towns along the way.  Concord stage coaches were filled with luggage and passengers, and hotel lobbies and halls were full of cots. Every available space was occupied. There were reported to be more than 1,500 people living in tents in and around Cañon City.  The saloons were full of noisy men and women.”(Simmons and Simmons 2005)

In 1879 Marshall and Amanda were both forty-three years old.  Sarah was 12, Ned 10, and Emerson was 9. All three youngsters had been attending school up at the one room school house in Garden Park School, the same one Oramel Lucas taught at three years earlier. Amanda’s son Albert was 23 and most likely still with the family but later begin working for the Santa Fe and Atkinson Railroad the Railroad in Kansas. Help on the farm in the summer months was critical, the three youngsters would have had a long laundry list of chores to do. Marshall worked at the ranch and probably picked up work as a wagon driver here and there for extra money.  Amanda kept the home front running and accommodated boarders for extra money when she could. 

Seems like a rosy picture but the physical injuries and mental trauma Marshall suffered in the Civil War were about to rear up and try to pull the family apart. 


Filing For Divorce: May 5, 1879

Marshall, Amanda, Sarah, Ned, and Emerson were living on their ranch in Garden Park. It would have been in the spring that any crops or a vegetable garden were going to be planted. Working on irrigation ditches, building fences, and other farming work could be expected as well. May 5, 1879 would not be any of those things. It would be unpleasant, in the mildest of terms. 

An argument between Marshall and Amanda escalated into a verbal confrontation.   Marshall then hit Amanda in the face and forced her to leave the house.  Amanda left taking the children with her. Maybe they left in the wagon or sadly left on foot, either way it had to be a gut wrenching journey.  Amanda found a place with a roof over their head but described that they were living in “indigent” circumstances. Considering how dirt poor they were most of the time, this is hard to imagine. 

Amanda heard that Marshall was trying to sell the ranch which propelled her to take steps to keep that from happening.  She retained Mr. Macon, an attorney.  On the 20th of June they filed a formal complaint and she requested a divorce. On the 23rd of June, Sheriff Shaffer served papers on Marshall Felch. Marshall in turn retained the attorney J.L. Cox subsequently filing a counter complaint on the 28th of June.  (Wilson 1879)

Amanda’s Complaint 

The key points of Amanda’s complaint are:

On the 5th of May, Marshall struck Amanda in the face with great force

He then drove her away from the house

She and the children were forced to live in “indigent” circumstances.

He treated her in a cruel and inhuman manner after that date

She was afraid to return because the defendant would continue to lecture her and again inflict upon her a repetition of acts of cruelty upon her.

It is a rather simple and seemingly factual account of the situation. 

Amanda’s requested the following for relief:

One half of the ranch estate estimating its value at about $2,000 noting that Marshall had been attempting to sell it in order to defraud her of potential income

Custody of the three children

Counsel fees

General relief

Alimony as deemed appropriate by the court

Marshall’s Defense

Marshall explained in his counter claim that he hit Amanda in self-defense;

“until at last plaintiff [Amanda] arose from her chair and advanced toward defendant in a threatening manner, hurling at him threatening and abusive words and epithets, when defendant being in a weak and excited condition caused by the nature of his malady and plaintiff’s conduct struck plaintiff a blow to defend himself from the attack that defendant recognizes the wrong he did by so doing and was about to ask plaintiff’s pardon and ask her to return.” (Wilson 1879)

Marshall denied that he;

was guilty of extreme cruelty toward plaintiff but that on the contrary he at all times except upon the one occasion herein after mentioned and conducted himself toward the plaintiff as a kind loving husband and has done all in his power to make plaintiff happy”.

He disputed her assessment of the value of the ranch and stated he would be the more suitable parent to assume custody of Sarah, Ned, and Emerson. 

Marshall’s remaining remarks are an intense attack on Amanda’s character.  In particular, he accused her of having three affairs naming specific dates and people including Walter Weld in May, David Baldwin in the summer of 1878, and finaly James Murphy.  In particular he was particularly upset about Walter Weld and described Amanda as being involved in the grossest and most indecent conduct.(Wilson 1879)

Walter Weld

Marshall’s older sister Sarah married Ned Weld in Vermont in 1854. Ned and Sarah had three children; Ida, Walter, and Edward. Ned passed away in 1860.  In 1879 Sarah and her grown children including Ned and Walter were living in the Canon City area, possibly even boarding at times with Marshall and Amanda.   Walter Weld’s birth date is unknown, but a reasonable guess is that he was born in 1856 or 57 based on Sarah and Ned being married in 1854 and Ned passing away in 1860. Additionally there was one younger and one older sibling.  

Walter Weld would have been around 22 or 23 years old in 1879.  about the same age as Amanda’s son Albert. Walter Weld will actually go to work for Marshall assisting him with dinosaur excavations in the mid 1880’s.   

David Baldwin

David Baldwin was the dinosaur digger who purchased the small crocodile fossil at the curio shop in Colorado Springs for Professor Marsh in 1877. Baldwin was in Canon City the summer of 1878 looking for alternative dinosaur dig sites of potential interest to Professor Marsh (Baldwin 1878) . Considering that both Marshall and Baldwin dug fossil bones at one time or another for Professor Marsh, they probably were acquainted. Baldwin continued to work in New Mexico after 1880 collecting for Professor Cope.  Late in life he seems to have died somewhat in obscurity.

Baldwin lived in the Canon City area during the summer of 1878. This is the time period when Marshall accused Amanda of having an affair with him.


James Murphy

The final accusation was launched again James Murphy who was the manager of the oil wells mostly just south of the ranch along the creek.  Marshall may worked for Murphy at times as an agent distributing oil in the local area. (Donald H. Kupfer, Ph.D. 2000)  Consideration of Mr. Murphy having an affair with Amanda seems as equally implausible as the other two men as the other two. 

Thoughts about Amanda

Dorothea Dix, in charge of the nursing corps, wouldn’t even take a second look at a woman who had any hint or appearance of impropriety.  Amanda not only arrived at Ms. Dix’s doorstep in early 1864 with a stellar reputation, she went to work for Ms. Dix becoming one of her most trusted nurses. In 1888, a group of prominent Civil War officers and a former governor of Vermont testified in support of Amanda’s application for a pension in regards to her strong moral character in the war

In 1879, Amanda was 43 years old while her nephew Walter Weld was 22 or 23 years old. Today we might describe the 40’s as the prime of your life, but in 1880 the average life expectancy was 40 years old and Amanda had not only lived a life of hardship, she had given birth to six children including her son Albert.  Anything is possible but nothing about this or the other accusations of an affair makes any sense. 



Thoughts about Marshall 

Following his injuries at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Marshall went to Amanda at City Point for help. This moment doesn’t convey the feeling of a solider arriving from a traumatic injury but rather a friendly little story where he went to her somewhat in courtship. Field hospitals dealt with bloody injuries and death every day in the Civil War. Someone like Marshal with pain in his left side and neck would not rise to the level of needing attention beyond some hot rocks and pain medication.  At the time his injuries were hardly noticeable. 


Maybe the issues that led to Amanda filing for divorce were lingering effects of both physical and mental injuries that happened to Marshall in the Civil War and plagued him afterwards.  Let’s explore some of this and the ways he tried to deal with it seeking a possible link. 


In his work as a hospital steward he dispensed medicine to the troops. There is a laundry list of medicines dispensed during the Civil War.  Three worth mentioning that may have played a role in Marshall’s behavior included Laudanum, Calomel, and “Blue Mass” or little blue pills. All three of the medicines were in common use after the Civil War and something Marshall would have had access to.  He was skilled with medicines and could most likely develop a tincture using powders, herbs, and alcohol in order to cut down on the costs.  

Mercury in the sorts of quantities being dispensed through the war would not a good thing for our brains.  It could have clouded his judgement and any opium based medicine such as laudanum, that was the most common would certainly not make things better. 

Physical and Mental Injuries

Marshall went to Amanda after his spinal injury during the battle of Cedar Creek. His periodic episodes of debilitating pain in his left side and lost of strength and numbness in his left arm would not improve and in fact only get worse with age.  He arrived to the war with heart problems and came out of it with almost chronic diarrhea. In 1878 Amanda reported that “when he had cholera morbus [diarrhea] I felt his pulse, it would beat 3 or 5 times, then would skip 2 or 3 beats“. 

His problems weren’t just physical. In Marshall’s pension testimony Amanda stated: “He was also nervous then [In Montezuma in late 1860’s].  The boys would be drinking and (quarreling?) outside and that made him nervous, suppose his sickness helped to make him nervous.(Rodney Chipp 1890).  This implies PTSD. 

Laudanum was a very common opium-based medicine used to relieve pain during and after the civil war. It may have been used by Marshall when experiencing pain.  After the war, Laudanum was a commonly used medicine used for a wide spectrum of the public, even babies were given a spoonful when experiencing teething pain.

The Union Army alone issued nearly 10 million opium pills to its soldiers, plus 2.8 million ounces of opium powders and tinctures. An unknown number of soldiers returned home addicted, or with war wounds that opium relieved” (Trickey 2018) .

Blue Mass was a mercury based medicine and dispenssed commonly blue mass” which were commonly known as little blue pills.  They were prescribed for many common problems including depression. These pills that were in fact poisonous to the nervous system but this was unknown at the time and they were dispensed in relative massive doses. Some of the symptoms that doctors later learned were the result of mercury ingestion included “irritability, anxiety, hostility, depression, insomnia, memory loss, nerve damage, tremor, and problems with dexterity. (Phillips 2002)

Calomel means “beautiful and black” in Greek.  Calomel was a strong mercury-based medicine commonly dispensed by doctors throughout the 1800’s.  Doctors (and hospital stewards in the Civil War) would give patients huge doses of calomel for a variety of ailments but one of the more common uses was to “cleanse the bowels” (Schmid 2009).  

Sympathy, Kindness, and Love

Marshall stated in his testimony that he;  

“had been suffering from a disease of the heart and nervous system that renders him more easily [harassed] and troubled by mean and cruel language and conduct on the part of any one associating with him and more particularly by such conduct on the part of those to whom he should be able to look for sympathy kindness and love.” (Wilson 1879)

Marshall felt that his disabilities led to ridicule by others, including Amanda, who should have been sympathetic. 


Marshall grew up in an age of Victorian manliness and masculinity.  He was probably very sensitive about his abilities to be the soul breadwinner of the family and maintain consistent employment. 

Amanda was a woman doing man’s work in a man’s world.  She had been doing a man’s work since she was a young girl, helping out on both the farm and home after her mother’s death before setting off to join the Union Army as a nurse.

Amanda didn’t take no for an answer. When she needed a medical wagon to go take care of “her” troops she walked in to the Secretary of War on the 14th of September 1862 with few credentials, she walked out with orders for what she needed.  She approached every situation as a duty and did whatever was needed to get it done. This attitude certainly stuck with her until the end of her life. 

In those days men were the breadwinners and decision makers while women stayed in the background and took care of the house and children. Marshall was sick for lengthy periods of time forcing Amanda to take on jobs typically reserved in those days to the man. 

A stray comment that otherwise wouldn’t have been noticed may have been received by Marshall as a terrible insult.  Insecurities about his sense of manliness may have clouded what he was seeing

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 

We’ve focussed on the who, what, when, and where of Marshall and Amanda’s experience in the Civil War without stressing the emotional toll it must have had on the two of them.  Erik Dean published a remarkable book in 1997 entitled “Shook Over Hell:  Post Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War.  On page 78, Dean writes;

“Dozens and dozens of accounts of Civil War hospitals mention horrific scenes in which wounded men in every condition conceivable – shattered and shrieking – were brought in on stretchers to be tended by the overworked medical staff.  With an unendurable stench pervading the air, mangled me some with limbs already rotted by gangrene, covered the floor and flowed out into the yard as blood-splattered surgeons hoisted the next screaming victim on the “operating table” – frequently a door propped up on tables and, as their assistants held the struggling patient down, sawed away furiously to amputate an arm or leg.  Buckets of blood and piles of amputated arms, legs, and feet littered the ground, and the groans or haunting death appeals of the mortally wounded rang forever in the ears of those that were there.”  (Dean 1999)

Dean further described the experience of the Civil War nurse Kate Cummings;

“While waiting for the full of casualties …. this anxiety is enough to kill anyone…being depressed, melancholy, completely demoralized, and having disturbing dreams…O, I felt so sad…Many a boyish and manly face in the full hey-day of life and hope, now lying in the silent tomb” (Dean 1999)

Amanda and Marshall both repeatably experienced these types of emotional trauma almost every day for almost five years.  PTDS was not understood in the Civil War and was only dealt with when veterans had been driven completely insane.  Its effects were real and came with consequences that were largely ignored. 

Pulling it Together

Though we don’t know the details of how Marshall and Amanda resolved the divorce filing, we do know it was dropped, and their marriage continued.

The drawing below by Loretta Bailey depicts Marshall, Amanda, Sarah, Ned, and Emerson working and playing at the ranch in various situations. This is the picture we hope for!


O.C. Marsh

By 1880 Professor O.C. Marsh was world renowned for his work in paleontology, most recently for dinosaurs. After leading the Yale Expeditions  to the West in the the early 1870’s, Professor O.C. Marsh stayed close to home in New Haven where he managed all the paleontology work going on with his collectors out west as well as at the Yale Peabody Museum. The Peabody opened in 1876 and by 1880 it was overflowing with materials including dinosaur bones arriving from Garden Park, Morrison Colorado, and Como Bluffs Wyoming.  It wasn’t like a natural history museum we think of today, it was actually more like a warehouse for all the materials that had been collected. Marsh had both collectors out west and a small army of professionals at the Peabody that was by now the worlds leading paleontology laboratory.  It was only natural that he stay at home. 

 He did periodically take the train out west to check out things. In 1879 he visited Como Bluffs and in 1880 Canon City. (Schuchert and LeVene 1940)

Professor Marsh was notoriously secretive and would have gone out of his way to avoid any fanfare so he arrived to slip in and out of town with little notice.  He figured it would only alert Professor Cope to what he was doing and he couldn’t let that happen. He may have even avoided staying in a hotel in town and boarded at the Felch Ranch to avoid publicity. 

Professor Marsh came to Canon City for two things.  First he would get to meet Marshall Felch and get a feel for his capabilities.  He probably noticed that Marshall had some physical limitations but that he seemed well educated and nicely organized.  He would have been looking more for brains than brawn so Marshall’s traits would meet his needs and in all likelihood Marshall could hire help for the heavy lifting. 

Certainly he would also go look at the old quarry where Marshall had worked with Professor Mudge and Samuel Williston three years earlier. Marsh first heard about the highly fractured nature of the bones back in the fall of 1877 from Samuel Williston, but like all good paleontologists he knew that bone near the surface tends to weather and break up. The hill had some hard rock layers in it that sloped up away from the cliff edge.  There was a strong hint of not only more skeletons, but also bones, that would be less fractured. Marsh logically would have looked over the edge of the cliff down at the dump where Samuel Williston had tossed fractured bones over the edge.  Of course he was wondering what might be in that pile that he needed, he always encouraged collecting every scrap. 

When he left he must have been confident the quarry held promise and Marshall could handle the work.  His only constraint was money. By this time in his life he had spent a sizable percentage of his inheritance so he needed additional income to go after these bones.  

The Chair

In 1926, Sarah (Felch) Zimmerman was sitting with the paleontologist Earl Douglass at the University of Utah. She recalled the time Professor Marsh visited their ranch in 1880 when she was about 12 years old.  Earl Douglass commented in his notes that Marsh was known to be cold and unaffectionate so what Sarah told him next was definitely a surprise. 

He kissed her when he first saw he which somewhat perturbed her mother…

This was not good but its what happened next that is something Sadie would never forget; 

…and when she set a chair for Prof. Marsh it landed him on the floor.  Her mother reproved her severely and she was much mortified herself.(Douglass, Earl 1926)

It appears that she pulled out a chair from the table for him and when he sat down she may have pulled it back a little more landing him on the floor.  Regardless of exactly how it happened, there are a great many people (especially those that worked for him) that would have paid a lot of money to have seen this.

The story does one more thing; it lets us know that by 1880 the family was back together. 

The Military Institute

The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization formed in 1866 consisting of Union veterans of the Civil War.  It was a powerful and influential organization with chapters all across the country, including Colorado.  There were 70 posts across the state including one in both Canon City and Florence.   The GAR organization came together to push forward an idea of a Collegiate Military Institute that would be built in Canon City. This facility would be founded on “firm principles pertaining to what the Civil War was fought for and what they needed to do to preserve this heritage.” 

In 1880 the cornerstone of the Institute was laid to a great reception in 1880 and a beautiful facility built opening to the public for the school year in 1881.  (Grenard 2016)


Not an All Male Institute

In 1979 a local historian by the name of Doc Little wrote a very interesting article entitled “Civil War times saw women in institute”  His opening paragraph stated;  “ You think that admission of young women to the nation’s military academies in the last three of four years [1975 or 76] is something new?  Wrong. Girls were part of the military school life as far back as 1881 – at least they were at the Colorado Collegiate and Military Institute”…The institute administration realized that the region was too small to support an all-male cadet corps and voted to accept girls as well. The school catalog for the school year 1881-82 listed a student body of 66 of whom 18 were girls. One was from London, another from Abergele, North Wales, and some students from Kentucky, Michigan, Kansas, and Pennsylvania… Tuition, which included meals was $300 per year for boarding cadets.  Day students paid $40 for the year.  Dress uniforms were $25 and they were patterned after female dress uniforms from West Point at the time of the Civil War.  (Little 1979)

It is possible that because of Marshall and Amanda’s role as Civil War Union Veteran’s that they may have received other beneficial treatment in sending Sadie to school. 


In the picture of the young women at the Institute, Sarah is referred to as Sadie.  Lets call her that from this point forward. When the academy opened in the fall of 1881, Sadie was 14 years old.  She most likely attended the year the institute opened and may or may have not continued for another three years but regardless,  even a short stint at this facility would have been a powerful experience for any young person, something that her family could rally around.

Being that the institute was a military academy military drills and the course work included; Greek, Latin, calculus, orthography, surveying, mining engineering, chemistry, English literature, French elocution, and literary essays.   (Little 1979)

There is no way that Marshall and Amanda could have afforded the three hundred dollar tuition per year so Sadie was a day student and that mean’t getting back and forth to school on a daily basis and the institute was about 8 miles from the ranch. Sadie will come to be known as excellent rider of horses so maybe she rode a horse to school.  In a combination of walking/trotting/ and galloping she could have made it in less than an hour.  Marshall and Amanda may also have had friends in town that could have boarded Sadie for some of the week nights, particularly when the weather turned cold.

Regardless of the exact circumstances of Sadie attending the institute, it demonstrates in a major way that Marshall and Amanda had patched things up in a significant way, at least functionally.  Anything short of that would not have enabled what would remain of their remarkable accomplishments yet to come. 

The Letter

In 1881 John Wesley Powell was appointed the second director of the just formed United States Geological Survey (USGS).  He succeeded Clarence King who guided its initial formation.  In 1882 he hired Professor Marsh to be the chief paleontologist and provided an annual budget of about $15,000 a year for Marsh to use to assist with the western scientific work. Some of the work that he had been planning involved Marshall Felch, specifically to have Marshall Felch reopen the old quarry.   Marsh could tell within a few months if it would prove productive.  

Not long after Marsh received his appointment, Marshall received a letter that would dramatically change the course of his life. 


Yale College Museum
New Have, Conn.
March 30 1882

Dear Mr. Felch,

What are you going to do this summer? Do you want to collect “fossils” in your region if there is a good chance? 

Please let me know soon,

Yours truly
O.C. Marsh


Dean, Eric T. 1999. Shook over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press.

Donald H. Kupfer, Ph.D. 2000. “CANON CITY’S OIL SPRING, FREMONT COUNTY, COLORADO: COLORADO’S FIRST COMMERCIAL OIL PROSPECT (1860); AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE FLORENCE OIL FIELD (1881).” Drake Well Foundation © 2012 Petroleum History Institute, no. Oil-Industry History, Volume 1, Number 1, 2000.

Douglass, Earl. 1926. “Othniel C. Marsh Correspondence: Cover Sheets by Earl Douglass Based on Meetings with Sarah (Felch) Zimmerman on October 25, 1925 and July 21, 1926.,” July 21, 1926. Earl Douglass Papers. J. Willard Marriott Digital Library.

Gregory, William K. 1938. Biographical Memoir of Henry Fairfield Osborn, 1857-1935. Vol. VOLUME 19-THIRD MEMOIR. Washington: National Academy of Sciences.

Grenard, Dan. 2016. “Sadie Felch – Colorado Collegiate Military Institute.” ..Org. Historic Garden Park Fossil Area. 16 2016.

Little, W.T. (Doc). 1979. “Civil War Times Saw Women in Institute.” Canon City Daily Record, November 14, 1979.

Marsh, Othniel Charles. 1896. The Dinosaurs of North America. Washington: Govt. Print. Off.

Ostrom, John H, and John Stanton McIntosh. 1999. Marsh’s Dinosaurs: The Collections from Como Bluff. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Pangborn, Joseph Gladding. 1878. The New Rocky Mountain Tourist, Arkansas Valley and San Juan Guide. Chicago : Knight & Leonard.

Rodney Chipp. 1890. “Pension Application: Marshall P. Felch.” Pension Application Deposition 401703. Canon City: Pension Office.

Schuchert, Charles, and Clara Mae LeVene. 1940. O.C. Marsh, Pioneer in Paleontology. New Haven; London: Yale University Press ; H. Milford, Oxford University Press.

Simmons, Laurie R, and Thomas H Simmons. 2005. “Historic Buildings Survey of Downtown Canon City, Colorado 2004-05.” State Historical Fund Grant 004-M2-008. State Historical Society.

Wellge, H. 1882. Bird’s Eye View of Cañon City, Colo. County Seat of Fremont County 1882. Lithography.

Wilson, Jim. 1879. Divorce Filing – Amanda vs. Marshall. 3rd District Court in Colorado.

Next Chapter:  Marshall Digs Dinosaurs

In April of 1883 Marshall Felch begins a full time job excavating dinosaurs for Professor Marsh. This quickly becomes a major dinosaur quarry and over the next year, Marshall and his workers will uncover several major dinosaur skeletons and four very rare dinosaur skulls. One of these discoveries will initially be called by Marshall, an ugly character.  In early 1884 Professor Marsh will unveil this discovery to the public, a new genus and species of meat eating dinosaur with the name Ceratosaurus nasicornis. 

fill in later