An Interesting Letter in a Ratty Cover

This rather non-descript cover is very interesting to me from an historical standpoint.  The date of the content is June 9, 1870.  This qualifies it as a Colorado Territorial cover since Colorado's statehood date was August 1, 1876.  The locale is Denver, Colorado.  Although the cover, a Scott U58, does not show a postmark, it was probably pen cancelled by an alert clerk (although it is possible to have been carried outside of the mails).

The envelope carries a corner card of:

Deitsch & Bro.,
                Dealers in Dry Goods and Clothing,
                                DENVER, Colorado,
Deitsch & Bro. was a substantial firm as shown by the building on the letterhead enclosed.  They also had an office in New York City at 343 Broadway.

The enclosed letter was written by a sutler.  Sutlers were civilians who followed armies and provided supplies.  In this case, the supplies were for the western cavalry units - in particular, the Eighth Cavalry.

The letter is particularly interesting.  Here is a transcription with all the misspellings and lack of punctuation.

Denver, Colorado, June 9th 1870
F. A. Bloom Esqr
       Trinidad CT
                     I arrived in Denver this evening all .O.K. and will remain until Sunday morning and then will start for Cheyenne & will return with two companies of the Eight cavalry.
     I am furnishing corn hay & wood to this out fit & will do the same by the Eight.
     I am averaging fifty per day clear of all expenses  Keep that to your self, I purchase grain of the boys in pueblo & will do the same as I return  I want you to write me & direct to Cheyenne & give me all the particulars of My home and Bisness & Frank I want you to look out for me in the Agency if any troops pass through to see that they are well furnished & tell charlie the same  I am terrible uneasy about home but I cannot leave such a chance as I have  My regards to all
                                                Very Respectifully yours
                                                            W A Rifenburg
PS do not let any body have eny thing in my apt unless you are shure it is all OK
The profitability of Mr. Rifenburg's activity was most impressive.  Making $50 a day in 1870 was exceptional!  I suspect this profiteering was likely to be ill-received had it been widely known.

Frank Bloom was an important Trinidad, Colorado, pioneer in the south central part of the state.  And the Eighth Cavalry was an important force in taming the West after the Civil War.

Frank A. Bloom
Frank Bloom traveled to the West from Pennsylvania to become a pioneer in Trinidad, Colorado. He first joined his friends John and Mahlon Thatcher in Pueblo. The Thatchers were to become another famous Colorado family.

Bloom had worked for the Thatchers' father in Pennsylvania, and was engaged to their sister.  In 1867, Bloom came to Trinidad to manage Thatcher Brothers and Company, a general store.  At that time he also opened the first mine the the coal district surrounding Trinidad in 1867.  It was suggested that he opened the coal mine to promote demand for the stoves he handled in his mercantile business.

Having gained some success in business, Bloom returned to Pennsylvania to marry Sarah Thatcher and bring her west in 1869.  In 1882 Frank and Sarah Bloom built a three-story Victorian mansion.  By now, Bloom had become interested in cattle ranching and in 1885, Bloom and his brother-in-law incorporated the Bloom Cattle Company. Bloom also served as first vice-president at the First National Bank.

The magnificent Bloom home is now a part of the local Santa Fe Trail museum which also includes another pioneer home - The Baca House.

Eighth Cavalry
The principal mission of the Eighth Cavalry in the post-civil war period was to keep the peace in the western United States.  That meant controlling native Americans. At the time the letter was written the Eighth Cavalry was moving its headquarters to Fort Union, New Mexico, from Camp Halleck, Nevada.  The Seventh Cavalry under Custer had a similar mission but a much worse fate.

Quotations from:


"The Eighth Cavalry, organized in 1866, [was] one of the four cavalry regiments by which the military peace establishment was increased under an Act of Congress of July 28th of that year."

"On May 5, 1870, [the headquarters of the Eighth Cavalry] was moved to Fort Union, New Mexico, by rail, via Cheyenne and St. Louis, Mo.  The several troops took stations at Forts Union, Craig, Selden, Wingate, Bascom, Stanton, in New Mexico, and Fort Garland, in Colorado Territory.  The duties during this period were of almost continuous field service by troops or detachments, scouting after Indian depredators, furnishing guards, escorts, etc. Some of the details of service performed will be given under the headings of the different troops."