Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why Hinsdale County, Colorado has so few Democrats

Hinsdale County, Colorado is located in Southwest Colorado near the San Juan Mountains.  Of its 662 registered voters in the county today, 414 are Republican and 143 are independents.  There are only 105 Hinsdale Democrats.  That’s better than it used to be.  Once there no Hinsdale Democrats at all.  They were wiped out.  It happened this way.

In 1873, a man by the name of Alfred Packer, along with five companions from Hinsdale County got lost in the nearby San Juan mountains during the winter.  Packer eventually made it back to civilization alone, claiming that his five companions had abandoned him and that he had no idea what happened to them.  After further questioning, he finally admitted that his five companions were dead.  He had killed and eaten them to stay alive.

Packer was tried, convicted and sentenced to 40 years.  It is said that the presiding judge at sentencing leaned down from his bench, pointed at Packer and said:

“Packer, you depraved Republican son of a such-and-such, there were only five Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you ate them all!”

It was tough being a Colorado Democrat in the 1870s.

Source: Irving Stone, Men to Match My Mountains (New York: Berkely Books, 1982, p. 433.)

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