Taphofile Tuesday: Benjamin Wheeler Steele

Taphophile Tuesday:

 Colorado Springs Daily Gazette’s first publisher, Benjamin Wheeler Steele. Born in Massachusetts in 1851 to a family of old New England stock and Revolutionary War ancestry, he was proud of his ancestors and had a number of historical documents relating to their war efforts. As a boy, he saw his father and brothers go off to serve in the Civil War, some of them never to return. He was old enough to appreciate the stirring events of the times, and they left a strong impression on his mind. By age 14 he became a janitor of a four-room school to help pay for his education. Through perseverance, he also worked his way through graduation at Brown University. From a fellow student at Brown: "it was because of an explosion in the chemical laboratory that hemorrhages were brought on." He had begun to study law but left for our dear Colorado Springs instead to seek a healthier climate for his lungs. Upon arrival, Steele became an editor for the weekly Gazette, earning $8 per week. One year later, he was publishing the newspaper daily. Steele was popular with his employees. As noted in his eulogy, he took a warm, personal interest in his workmen, prizing faithful service and honoring those who gave it. He was level-headed, possessed good judgment, kind, and good-humored. He was known for his fairness and ability to see all sides of the issue. One senator reportedly said he possessed the strongest intellect in the state. His health declined quickly, and he was only able to rise from his bed for formal functions.

 The last two months of his life were spent bedridden, but he continued to transact business until the end in 1891, at only 40 years old. From the Gazette: By his final years, he had become a thorough student of the war and had a complete library of war literature. The old soldiers of our city have cause to remember him very kindly because of the great interest he took in all that pertained to them. His final resting place is in a lovely shady spot in block 34 of our Evergreen Cemetery. ❤️

A decade after his death, when the community's growth and wealth had warranted a new elementary
school, the Pikes Peak Press Club suggested it be named after Mr. Steele. And so, the beautiful new school at the northwest corner of Del Norte and Weber streets was named Steele School. This honor befits the man who gave so much of himself to the Colorado Springs community. The school was rebuilt in 1972 and is now a part of School District 11. 😊 Big thanks to ppld.org for having a great selection of information from their digital collection.

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