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Perry A. Burgess was many things: Diarist. Pioneer. Prospector. Banker. Investor. Inventor…the list is long and varied. His name appears in numerous historical works published since the 1950s, yet much of his story has never been told.
In 1866 he traveled to Montana with his uncles and 300 head of cattle up the ‘Bloody Bozeman Trail’ during Sioux Chief Red Cloud’s War. A pioneer of Colorado and one of the earliest settlers of Steamboat Springs, Burgess was a longtime friend and partner of some of the wealthiest businessmen in the nineteenth-century American West. Amongst them, his uncle Lewis Cheney, was one of the richest men in Boulder, Colorado. Together they developed the city’s banking system while contributing to its cultural and social heritage.
Raised Mormon, as boys they fell victim to rampant persecution, and Perry’s own father died on the Mormon Trail during the exodus to Utah. For Burgess, those early years of a nomadic existence would leave their mark and nurture in him a thirst for adventure, influencing his path to the end of his life.
Using Perry’s diaries, family photographs, and newly discovered personal essays published in the Steamboat Pilot as their focus, Valentine and Thompson piece together the life of a remarkable man and his family, whose adventurous spirit was matched only by their willingness to risk all for the unknown.
Beyond the Land of Gold provides an integral and heretofore missing piece of the history of the American Western Frontier and a snapshot into the life of one of its most intriguing characters.
About the Authors
Rebecca Valentine is the author of The Gilded Age and Progressive Era and co-author of numerous reference sets, including The Encyclopedia of US History. She has ghostwritten several health and wellness books, and her weekly column, “The Family Room,”
ran for years in her local newspaper. Rebecca was selected as a Colorado Voices columnist by the Denver Post in 2008. Her column
“The Front Porch” can be found online at http://leave-the-light-on.blogspot.com. Rebecca lives with her family in northern
Travis Thompson is an IT Manager for a global network services provider and lives with his wife Becky in Acworth, Georgia. A descendant of the Cheney family, he is the great-great-grandson of Dr. Levi Cheney who is an uncle of Perry A. Burgess.