1/30/2010

Soldier served with Confederate Army

Charlotte Burrous
The Daily Record

For more than a half a century, he lived in Cañon City.

Prior to that, William Tecumpseh Bridwell served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Born 1845 in Wheeling, W.V., he lived most of his early life in Virginia, according to the archives at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

When the Civil War broke out, several southern states seceded from the United States. At that point, Bridwell volunteered with the 4th Virginia Cavalry as a soldier under the “Stars and Bars,” serving until the south surrendered at Appomattox.

During the hostilities, Bridwell served with Gen. Lee when the Confederates invaded Pennsylvania then fought in the battle of Gettysburg, as well, as the participating in the retreat when the Confederate Army lost the war.

“He served valiantly in many a hard fought battle for the cause he believed to be right, but when the war was over, he patriotically accepted the result and turned his attention to reconstruction and the art of peace,” the archives said.

In 1878, he moved to Colorado, two years after its admission into the United States. In a new state, Bridwell worked as a carpenter then in the grocery business with Charles Apple before settling on the insurance and real estate business for the rest of his life.

Along the way, he met and married Barbara Cox on May 31, 1879. There is no record in the archives of what happened to her. Nor is there a record of what happened to Canadian immigrant Mary Robertson whom he married on Sept. 26, 1901.

A pioneer in the line of work, Bridwell kept an insurance office for more than 35 years.

But he also became known as one of the prime stockholders in Cañon City and Cripple Creek Toll Road Company on the Shelf Road.

“What is unique about Bridwell being involved with this project was that one of the other major stockholders in the company was B.F. Rockafellow,” who served with the Union during the Civil War, the archives state.

In his spare time, Bridwell joined the Masonic order, serving as a grand master of the lodge of Colorado, a high priest with the Royal Arch Masons of Colorado, a Knight Templar, as a Shriner and a member of the Scottish Rite Consistory.

Bridwell went through most of the chairs in the Masonic bodies of Cañon City. He was proud he had not missed a grand lodge convention in 40 years.

Also, he was involved with the Episcopal Christ Church as a vestry, supporting its activities.

Always involved, he became a charter member of the Cañon City Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks No. 610, having the No. 3 card when he joined.

One of the oldest and best known residents of Cañon City at the time of his demise, Bridwell died Sept. 29, 1927, leaving a niece as his only surviving relative.

According to the archives, the community sent “great masses of flowers and wreaths of immartelles,” which “proclaimed the high esteem in which the deceased was held by those who knew him best.

 © 2010 The Cañon City Daily Record

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