The Grafters Club

The Membership


Col. William Neil Dennison


Friends in High Places.


William Neil Dennison

Col. Neil Dennison was a partner in the Forest Queen mine until his death in 1904.

During the Civil War, Dennison was in the 2nd Brigade Horse Artillery under Sheridan, so Mike Belonger might have met him at Antietam. But probably not. That's Dennison, son of an Ohio governor, at Antietam, 2nd from right.

Neil Dennison, 2nd from right

Dennison, William Neil. Ohio. Ohio. 2 lieutenant 2 artillery 5 Aug 1861; 1 lieutenant 12 Nov 1861; captain 3 Jan 1867; brevet captain 6 July 1864 for gallant and good conduct in the battle of Antietam Md; major 6 July 1864 for gallant and good conduct in the battles of Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill Va and lieutenant colonel 13 Mar 1865 for good conduct and gallant services during the war; discharged 31 Dec 1870 at his own request.

While running for mayor of Columbus, Ohio in 1879, he was noted as being supported by "the most disreputable bummers, as well as the entire gambling fraternity, their cappers, and the gin-mill combination." He lost.

A Chicago Trib article of 1882 describes the plight of Dennison's poor family, left back in Ohio after the Colonel's journey west, uncared for, living off the generosity of Dennison's parents, his wife forced to perform on stage to feed her children.

She has four children, ranging from 4 to 9 years of age, and a husband living in Denver, who neither writes nor sends her a dollar, oblivious to her existence and to his four children. Gentlemen returning to Columbus who have seen him in Denver report that he makes money fast, and, in his princely style, anybody can share it with him—except his wife and children.

In Novemeber of 1895, Bascomb Smith, in the county jail after the Hughes assault wrote a letter to his brother Soapy. He mentions the Colonel too, who happened to be serving as Denver's DA at the time:

Old Deneson was fired out of office a day or two ago. He...[won't?] have the pleasur...[e of] proscuting me, any way.

With Soapy on the lam, the Blonger Bros. machine was picking up steam. A district attorney in the hand was a great thing to have, no matter how many there are in the bush, and Lou had a hand full. Dennison wasn't even the only DA Lou was partnered with in the Forest Queen. Robert Steele, Denver's District Attorney in 1892, and O. W. Jackson, Assistant DA, both bought into the Queen later in 1892.

And the Blonger Bros. were still getting in trouble with the law — in fact the Blonger Bros. gambling house was closed by police for bunko games the very day the claim was filed.

But it's the DA who brings the cases...

Later in June of 1896, Horace Tabor was forced by the court to sell his opera house, and the only bidder was — Col. Neil Dennison.