Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family, July 30, 1867

In this letter from July 30, 1867, Samuel Reed writes to his wife and family describing his return trip after leaving Chicago, where he was visiting his family. Reed apologizes to his wife for visiting "several" saloons and other "dens of vice and crime" in Julesburg after his return. He gives a detailed account of his activities, which illustrates the availability of such diversions along the western portion of the Union Pacific Railroad.

I arrived here in good time after leaving you at Chicago, without accident and rather weary from the long ride. I did not stay over at Omaha, NE but came on the first train arriving here Wednesday P. M. Julesburg continues to grow with magic rapidity, vice and crime stalk unblushingly in the mid-day sun. You know that I never keep from you any mean thing that I do and now I am ready to confess to you what I have done since my return from Chicago; and let me say by way of apology, that it is the first offense of the kind I have knowingly committed. Fearing that you have already judged and condemned unheard, I will hasten with my confession. General Auger and staff returned here last Friday evening and nothing would do but they must see the town by the gas light. I sent for Dan Casement to pilot us. (I knew he could show us the sights.) The first place we visited was a dance house, where a fresh importation of strumpets had been received. The hall was crowded with bad men and lewd women. Such profanity, vulgarity and indecency as was heard and seen there would disgust a more hardened person than I. The next place visited was a gambling hell where all games of chance were being played. Men excited with drink and play were recklessly staking their last dollar on the turn of a card or the throw of a dice. Women were cajoling and coaxing the tipsy men to stake their money on various games; and pockets were shrewdly picked by the fallen woman of the more sober of the crowd. We soon tired of this place and started forth for new dens of vice and crime and visited several similar to those already described. At last, about 10 P. M. we visited the theatre and were asked behind the curtain to see the girls. From here I left the party and retired to my tent fully satisfied with my first visit to such places.

The government directors and Mr. Dillon will be here at twelve today and go over the track this P. M. I have not seen Mr. Dillon yet. Mr. Ames is not of the party. I regret this because I had rather have one good talk with him than to write letters. I will write you as soon as I have a good talk with Mr. Dillon.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Samuel Reed Papers (Union Pacific Railroad Collection), MS 3761, Unit 1, Subgroup 14, Series 1, Box 2, Letters to Wife and Family
  • Date: July 30, 1867