Porcelain (Part 17)

Wyatt Coburn had left town that spring morning with absolutely no intention of ever coming back.  He had said whatever needed to be said so that his father would consent to his leaving, and that had ended up being that he would return within three years.  The family business depended upon his return, or so his father insisted, especially as Wyatt’s younger brother Michael clearly had no intention of staying around much longer.  His brother’s fascination with Indians had been the thing that planted the seed of Wyatt’s lie, as their father had seemed to acquiesce to Michael’s claim that adventure was what he needed to experience.  No promise had been demanded of the younger son, however, as he lacked any semblance of business acumen.  Wyatt had much of it though and had displayed it early in life, a talent which he realized much too late was going to threaten to hold him back form his own desires for adventure.   It had already done so for too many years, as he was approaching forty years old before he finally realized he just had to get away.  He may come from a family that had proven to be extremely long-lived, however, he still felt that his life was slipping away, caught in the dreary cycle of the logging trade.   So, he had promised to come back and had begun saying good-bye to people who only thought he was leaving for a few years.  On that final morning in Maine he had sensed that his sister, the sole family representative to see him off, had known about his plan.  She had, however, said nothing and merely stated that she hoped his travels went well, a farewell delivered with little actual affection.

From that moment he had felt free and happy for several years as he traveled widely, rarely staying in one place for more than six months.  Over those years Wyatt had managed to take part in several historic events, the first being his inclusion in the first large wagon train that left Independence, Missouri for California in 1841.  That group later split into two parties and Wyatt followed Captain John Bartleson to Oregon where he later worked briefly as a reporter for the Oregon Spectator, the first published newspaper on the west coast.  Wyatt also had been among the first one hundred prospectors to arrive in the  South Platte River area and take part in what would later be called the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

It was there, during the summer of 1858, while camped along the river in a small tent, that he had gotten a Cherokee woman pregnant.  This would produce his only offspring, a son named Isaac, who would stay with him throughout the many twists his life took, including after he abandoned the boy’s mother in 1862.  The gold rush had made him wealthy and he wandered around with his money, intermittently returning to Denver City until he was broke again in 1867, finally settling down in the new territorial capital just as it shortened its name to simply Denver.

He had raised his son by himself, never having another woman permanently in his life after departing the depleted fields of the gold rush.  Wyatt believed he had managed the boy, who was far more of a trouble-maker than his father had been, as well as could be expected given the other demands on his time and attention.  Things about his son’s behavior and manner bothered him more as the boy neared his sixteenth birthday, with the usual boyhood talents for cruelty and destruction not gently easing away as they did in other young men.  At times Wyatt truly feared what might happen if his son was left to swing loose into the world, and that had prompted his attempt to keep Isaac as close as possible at a time when other men’s sons were venturing out into the world on their own.  At night, as he would sit outside his front door and smoke his pipe, he realized the irony inherent in his attempt to keep the young man from exploring the world.  Despite that, Wyatt still believed the best interests of others were served by keeping the young man close.  He could not, of course, stop the other urges of his son, and in 1880 Isaac married Lydia Potter and later in the year they had a fair-haired son whom they named Ambrose.  After the birth of his son, Isaac had become more and more insistent in his demands that he and his new family needed to strike out for other parts, and two years later Wyatt had exhausted all possibilities for keeping his son in Denver.  He had managed to wrangle himself into their plans though, claiming that his advanced age of eighty-eight meant he needed to have his family near him to provide care in the event that his health took a turn for the worse.  He was pleased with himself after finally convincing Isaac to take him along, a feeling that was cut short when he learned his son’s intended destination was Germany.  Apparently believing that the United States had offered all it could to him during the five years of his youth spent traveling with his father, Isaac was determined to go to Europe and seek his fortune and adventure.  Wyatt had an internal feeling that the long journey might in fact kill him at his old age, however he felt duty-bound to oversee and control his erratic son for as long as he was able.  It was the day after resolving himself to this, with his son’s family en route to Elite Studios in Denver for a final photograph in the United States, that his sister’s letter reached him.

family denver co elite studios 329 16th street

family denver co elite studios 329 16th street

…to be continued

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