Helen Monro Arnott1

F, #24, b. 23 September 1897, d. 12 May 1917
Last Edited=4 Dec 2015
     Helen Monro Arnott, daughter of John Hunter Arnott and Helen Monro, was born on 23 September 1897 at Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado.2 Helen Monro Arnott was the daughter of John Hunter Arnott and Helen Monro.

Helen Monro Arnott appeared on the United States census of 1900 in the household of John Hunter Arnott at Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado.3

Helen Monro Arnott appeared on the United States census of 1910 in the household of John Hunter Arnott at Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado.4

This is an excerpt from the diary of John Snyder (1896-1869), grandfather to researcher Craig Noll. It is included by permission of Craig Noll, who says, “Although a very brief mention of Helen, I thought you would find it interesting. I'm sorry there wasn't more to the story.” It is from entries in 1912-1913.

“…my older brother Milton had gone to Colorado. After corresponding with him I pulled stakes and headed for Floresta, Colorado. The train ride from Billings to Denver took place at night but from Denver to Salida it was most interesting and beautiful. I stayed on Salida overnight since there was only one train a day from there to Gunnison and Crested Butte. Incidently, Salida is on the main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western R. R. to Ogden, Utah and the mail line was standard guage (sic) while the Denver and Rio Grande Western line from Salida to Grand Junction was narrow guage (sic.) That is where the two lines met. At 6:30 A.M. the narrow Guage line train left Salida for Gunnison. The train was composed of a small Pot Bellied locomotive and three passenger cars. We started climbing immediately after leaving the station with never ending sharp curves and ever changing scenery. It was a most thrilling and interesting ride all the way up to Marshall Pass and then we started down the slope till we arrived in Gunnison. At Gunnison we changed to another Narrow Guage train that would take us to Crested Butte. This was a combination train composed of about 25 freight cars and an old passenger car. At Crested Butte we changed to still another Narrow Guage train that would take us to Floresta. This train was composed of 6 empty coal cars and a caboose in which any passengers would ride. On the return trip the cars would be full of anthracite coal since Floresta had the only anthracite coal mine west of the Mississippi. Upon arrival I was met by my brother Milton and taken to the Company Boarding house run by Billy Rees and his wife. I worked in the coal breaker as Weigh Boss for only a few weeks when the winter snows forced the annual shutdown of the mine. The mine at Floresta was at an altitude of 10000 feet in the midst of the mountains and it was impossible to keep the railroad open. The mining Company, The Colorado Fuel and Iron Co., transferred us workmen to other Company operations, at lower altitudes, where we worked during the winter and until they could open the mine at Floresta. During this period I worked as a painter at Company houses. Early in May 1913 we received word the Floresta mine would open.

“On May 13 (?) Milton and I left Coal Creek, Colorado for Salida where we stayed over-night. The next morning we left for Gunnison and Crested Butte. From there we took the usual train which had a rotary snow plow in front. There was not much snow at Crested Butte but we had to open the road all the way to Floresta. The winter snows were still on the mountains and we had to plow thru as much as 30 feet of snow in the Railroad cuts. The railroad turntable, on which the locomotive was turned around, had to be cleared by hand and then we settled down to operating the mine. Milton was the mine clerk and I was assigned as weigh boss at $90 dollars a month, ten hours a day, seven days a week. I worked on the very top of the breaker, with a magnificent view of the mountains. I thoroughly enjoyed working there and sometimes I could take a day off to fish or just hike around the mountains.

That summer the miners called a strike and things started to happen. I was a company man and not affected except that the strikers “Rednecks” considered us as strike-breakers. This was not a local affair but it involved all coal mines in that region. It will be remembered that a big fight and massacre occurred at Ludlow, Colo. in the fall of that year 1913 between strikers and non-strikers. Our camp was quiet and peaceful until the strikers threatened to invade our camp. These threats came from other sources and we were prepared to defend ourselves in case. One night that same fall the breaker whistle sounded an alarm, which was answered by all company men with arms. I went to my post on top of the breaker with my own high powered rifle and we waited till dawn without any incident, furthermore our camp was never invaded. About that same time, just before election time Sheriff Pat Hanlon was having a rally at Crested Butte since he was up for re-election. Two fellows at Floresta, about my age decided to go to Crested Butte to join in the fun. With no conventional transportation available we took a small railroad hand car, pushed it up grade to Kebler Pass, about one and one-half miles, and from that point we coasted about ten miles down grade to Crested Butte. The only assist we needed was a 2x4 timber to stick between the frame of the car and one of the wheels to act as a brake to control our speed, otherwise we would attain too much speed probably leave the rails at a curve and hurtle down the mountainside. When we arrived at Crested Butte we went directly to the Elk Mountain Hotel which we learned was also Sheriff Hanlon’s pre-election headquarters. We realized that there would be many strikers in town and came to Crested Butte fully armed. At the Hotel we were told that since Sheriff Hanlon had full contron (sic) (control?) we should check our hardware there, which we promptly did – to our sorrow. It should be explained here that Coal Miners, mostly of foreign birth – Poles, Italians, Hungarians, etc. – were a hardy and rugged lot non-descript characters unfamiliar with the niceties in life. Unfortunately we three boys that came down together, separated to go our individual ways to find our fun. I soon found myself with Helen Arnott, the daughter of John Arnott, Superintendant (sic) at the Crested Butte mine. We went to a dance in a hall in the middle of the block, in the center of town, and it did not take me long to realize I was not in a friendly crowd. During intermission Helen and I wanted to go out to find refreshments and unfortunately we had to go down the street. As we approached the door to go out I noticed a group of approximately 30 striking miners and it did not appear they were about to ask me for the next dance. It was too late now to turn back so we went ahead. As we advanced the group opened a path to let us pass. Unkind words and threats were uttered and I felt Helen’s hand tightening on my arm. Incidentially (sic), this was Helen’s home which she knew well but it was strange to me. About half way from the dancehall doorway to the corner Helen said to me “Get in here” It was of course totally dark but I moved quickly and followed my nose into a narrow alley between two buildings. Almost immediately after I started to run in the alley several shots rang out and they all started coming my way. At the rear of the building about a 5 foot wood fence bisected the opening and as I was now in high gear I just floated over it. I intended to vault another wood fence on the opposite side of the lot without knowing there was barb wire strung along the top. Imagine what that barb wire did to the new suit I had just received from Sears Roebuck. When I could not force myself thru the barb wire I dropped back into the enclosure where I found a low shed apparently used to store kindling wood. Since any port will do in a storm I crawled in and snuggled in the corner. In the meantime the men intent on working me over ran past on the other side, apparently intent on heading me off, but they lost me. Several times I could hear them pass on the other side of my hiding place and while I could hear them talk about me, not very kindly, they never found me. After a long wait and hearing no further noises I moved thru the rear into a wide alleyway and avoiding all buildings I finally got back to the Elk Mountain Hotel.

Then I learned that the strikers had laid hands on my two pals separately and had beaten them severely. In returning the next day the two boys were a terrible sight, with black and blue eyes, and other bruises but while I did not share their fate I had a few bad cuts from the barb wire and my suit was completely ruined. Now that I am older and wiser, at 65 years, I can truthfully say I was more scared during this episode than I was during my World War One and Two experiences. Incidentally, while returning to Floresta we could not take advantage of the hand cart but had to walk the 11 miles.56

Helen Monro Arnott married George Edmund Sorrell, son of George Sorrell and Sarah Frances Brown, on 21 June 1915 at Gunnison County, Colorado, The marriage was performed by E.H. Robinson and was witessed by Sophia Beitler and Joe Arnott. Joe was a brother of the bride. The Beitler family lived in Crested Butte.6,7

Helen Monro Arnott and George Edmund Sorrell lived on 10 July 1915 at Irwin, Gunnison County, Colorado. There was a note in the Irwin Notes of the Elk Mountain Pilot which states: "The newlyweds, Ed Sorrel and his wife, are domiciled for the summer in one of the cottages on the Queen mine road above main street."

There is no longer a town at the site of Irwin, only several crumbling building foundations. It was in a rugged falley nine miles of north of Crested Butte.8,9

Helen (Arnott) Sorrell had a child prior to her death. Elsie (Arnott) Welch says that Helen's baby was taken care of by Ma (Helen Munro) Arnott. "Elsie being the approximately same age, Ma would bathe Elsie then set her on the floor and bathe Helen's baby. This was after Helen died. Ed Sorrell was not a nice person from what Elsie gathered from Ma. He took the daughter and left Crested Butte...No word was ever heard from Ed Sorrell. No town, city, or country. No one ever heard from him again...No word was ever received from Helen's daughter." Census records have subsequentially helped locate this daughter.10

From the 24 May 1917 issue of the Elk Mountain Pilot: "Mrs. George Sorrell returned to Crested Butte Friday. The washing out of 11 bridges between Grand Junction and Salt Lke City delayed her train from California."11

Helen Monro Arnott died on 12 May 1917 at Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado, at age 19.12,13 It is unknown where Helen Monro Arnott was buried for certain. Her obituary was printed in the 17 May 1917 issue of the Elk Mountain Pilot: "The community was greatly shocked to hear early Saturday morning, May 12, of the death of Mrs. Helen Arnott Sorrel. She died of hearts disease at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Arnott. While death was not entirely unexpected Mrs. Sorrel having been a patient sufferer from the disease for many months, the arrow falls just as heavily upon those left to mourn the departure of one who was a faithful wife, a loving sister, and daughter and a kind friend to all who knew her.

"Helen Monroe Arnott was born in Crested Butte the 23rd of September, 1897, and grew to womenhood in our midst. In June 1915, she was married to Edward Sorrel, of this place and one little daughter, now a year old, blessed this union.

"Besides the bereaved husband and infant daughter, she is survived by her parents and six brothers and four sisters..."

Art Welch reports that Elsie (Arnott) Welch remembers talk that Helen was buried at Smith Hill, though he does not remember ever seeing a cemetery there.10

Citations

  1. [S179] Interview with Alice Joyce Stevens Arnott (informant address private) , by this researcher, 1996. Notes of this interview are in the personal records of this researcher (Florence, Pinal County, Arizona).
  2. [S160] Unknown author, Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado: May 17, 1917, issue. Her obituary lists her birth date.. Hereinafter cited as "An article in Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado."
  3. [S1] 1900 United States Census, population schedule, Supversion District 2, Enumeration District 140, Sheet 8, Line 1.; digital image by subscription, The Generations Network (http://www.ancestry.com); from the National Archives microfilm. A printed copy is in the personal records of this researcher.
  4. [S2] 1910 United States Census, population schedule, Supervision District 2, Enumeration District 63, Sheet 6, Page 4, Precinct 4.; digital image by subscription, The Generations Network (http://www.ancestry.com); from the National Archives microfilm. A printed copy is in the personal records of this researcher.
  5. [S499] Craig Noll, "Correspondence with Craig Noll Regarding the Arnott Fmaily," (author E-Mail address private) at unknown address, to this recearcher, May 2014. Hereinafter cited as "Correspondence - Craig Noll."
  6. [S131] John Chandler Clement, Colorado Marriages 1859-1939 (Denver, Colorado: John Chandler Clement, unknown publish date). Hereinafter cited as Colorado Marriages 1859-1939.
  7. [S16] Marriage Record, The State of colorado, Gunnison County, Licese and Certificate No. 1494. photocopy or digital copy is in the personal records of this researcher, Florence, Pinal County, Arizona.
  8. [S160] Unknown author, Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado: Saturday, July 10, 1915 in a column called "Irwin Notes.". Hereinafter cited as "An article in Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado."
  9. [S508] Unknown journalist, "Few Recall the Bustling Town of Irwin," Rocky Mountain News (10 August 1958). Hereinafter cited as "Irwin, Colorado."
  10. [S84] Interview with Art and Elsie Welch (informant address private) , by this researcher, Various meetings and correspondence. Notes of this interview are in the personal records of this researcher (Florence, Pinal County, Arizona).
  11. [S160] Unknown author, Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado: 24 May 1917.. Hereinafter cited as "An article in Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado."
  12. [S160] Unknown author, Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado: A note in this paper 8 May 1918 indicates that Helen had died.. Hereinafter cited as "An article in Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado."
  13. [S160] Unknown author, Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado: May 17, 1917, issue.. Hereinafter cited as "An article in Elk Mountain Pilot, Crested Butte, Colorado."