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This profile was last updated on 7/1/04  and contains information from public web pages.

Detective

Rocky Mountain Detective Association
 
Background

Employment History

  • City Marshal
    New Albuquerque
  • Town Marshal
    New Albuquerque
  • Blonger Bros

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Board Member
    Free Gold Mining & Milling Co.
7 Total References
Web References
Blonger Bros. - Search For The Blonger Bros.: July 2004
www.blongerbros.com, 1 July 2004 [cached]
Could Sam have been to the Southwest before or during Civil War? Could some stories attributed to Joe properly belong to Sam?
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At this point it is just as easy to assume that Sam tried his luck in New Mexico as it is to assume that Joe was just making things up.
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Sam had to be somewhere. Why not prospecting in NM?
Cochise is said to have worked at a stagecoach station in 1861, and Sam was driving frieght.
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Instead, we hear a bit about Lou and Sam, but mostly about Joe and his life in the desert, befriending the Indians.
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They were Sam, Mike, Louis, and Joe.
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It seems very doubtful Sam served. There is no evidence to indicate such, including his obituaries. But what did he do during the War? He was in Central City, Colorado in 1861, and California in 1865, but he literally could have been anywhere during the war.
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Sam Belonger, when a boy of 18, walked barefoot with a wagon train across the ground where Denver, Colorado now stands.
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At one time, about six miles east of where Denver's capitol-building now stands, Sam Belonger and Buffalo Bill Cody, while on a scouting trip, were chased and surrounded by a war party of eight Indians. Their only chance to survive the fight was to shoot their horses and use the bodies for breastworks. Both Uncle Sam and Buffalo Bill, being dead shots with rifles, killed all eight Indians and escaped.
This sounds a lot like a story from Cody's autobiography, and Sam wasn't there. Thirteen-year-old Cody, already experienced as a horse messenger, was in Denver prospecting in 1859, but only for two months, and not as a scout, which he would take up near the end of the War. Afterward he spent his time on the Plains and back East. Sam seemed to gravitate between Colorado and California during this period, though, again, the War years are a mystery.
Later, Sam began mining with his brother, Louis, who went west at the close of the Civil War.
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Sam and Louis, well known all over the West in the seventies, eighties and nineties as the Belonger Brothers, started the Golden Eagle Saloon.
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Later Sam became a peace officer while Louis remained in business.
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We are coming to the conclusion that Sam and Lou, the Blonger Brothers, were indeed fairly well-known out West, having been proprietors in many towns throughout the area, and they were known as prominent gamblers as well.
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Sam became an A-1 Western sheriff. He served a long time in the 1870's and 1880's. Later, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he was hired as a peace officer at 750 dollars a month to clean up a bad gang of outlaws. Sam, a huge man over 6'3" and a dead shot with both .45 and rifle cleaned up the outlaw gang without getting shot. But later, back in Denver, while arresting a bad-man-outlaw, there was gun-play and a .45 bullet, glancing from a stove, struck Sam in the left eye. As a result he lost the eye; then he quit sheriffing and went into mining again, where, in the early 1900's he and Louis operated the Forest Queen mine up in the mountains west of Denver.
Sam appears to have had a long career as a lawman and/or detective (the line can be blurry), though his time in Albuquerque is the only confirmed instance.
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Sam was City Marshal of New Albuquerque in 1882, an appointment made by the Sheriff, an elected county official.
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It is quite possible that Sam had previously worn a badge in various boomtowns, as is implied by the Albuquerque Morning Journal when it says: "Mr.
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It is equally possible that Sam went on to do similar work after his stint in Albuquerque.
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We have no evidence yet of Sam's injury, though Denver journalist Forbes Parkhill tells us that Sam wore dark glasses — presumably to hide his disfigurement.
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The Albuquerque Morning Journal tells us that, when Sam was finally reunited with Joe in 1882, Joe was "a brother whom he had not seen for nine years and had long since given up as dead...
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So when did Joe rejoin Sam, Lou and the Livingston family?
Blonger Bros. - Blonger Brothers History
www.blongerbros.com, 23 May 2010 [cached]
Sam divorced Ella in October of 1889, and married Sadie Wilson days later.
February 13, 1890 - Sadie buys lot 10, block 1, Santa Fe addition, for $650.
In 1893 Sadie sued for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty, Sam having beaten her on numerous ocassions.
...
Sam Belonger, when a boy of 18, walked barefoot with a wagon train across the ground where Denver, Colorado now stands. There were only two cabins then.
As Sam was born in March of 1839, he would have arrived in Denver in 1857 (before the discovery of gold at Cherry Creek) or 1858.
In 1858, it would cetainly be possible for Sam to encounter a nascent Denver City. By late in 1859, he would have found a boomtown.
The account tries to add weight to the first point with an even taller tale:
At one time, about six miles east of where Denver's capitol-building now stands, Sam Belonger and Buffalo Bill Cody, while on a scouting trip, were chased and surrounded by a war party of eight Indians.
...
But only two votes for Denver, and one against; if Sam went from Minnesota to California he would have had to detour to Denver on the way West to be there in 1859, continuing on later that year or early the next to California, backtracking through Wyoming to take the Lander Road.
Maybe it's more prudent to accept the more obvious interpretation: that he went to California, then returned east to Colorado in the next year or two, as Denver grew into a bustling boomtown.
...
Sam is the only reasonable candidate, and we therefore state with some certainty that Sam was indeed in Colorado by 1861.
On the other hand — Sam signed a petition submitted to Congress in February of 1861:
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This would seem to certify that Sam traveled the Lander Road to California in 1859 or 1860. His train consisted of seven wagons, seventeen people, and 129 head of stock. His residence is listed as Minnesota, and the train's destination is listed as California.
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Any answer would go a long way toward determining the veracity of Armstrong's claim, that Sam visited Denver by early 1859. He surely visited by 1861.
...
I take it back... On re-reading our materials about the Lander Cutoff, it appears that the petition was initiated in 1859 — seeming to indicate Sam traveled at this time, and not in 1858 — and that those who signed it had already traveled the road. This puts us back at square one. Did Sam go to California, then back to Colorado, then back to California? Apparently...
...
Finally, in February of 1895, Sam is elected to the board of directors of the Free Gold Mining & Milling Co.
...
For the record, I have for a long time had a problem reconciling two known facts regarding Sam's journey West, to wit; Sam signed a petition asking the federal government to build a bridge over the Snake River, where one traveler had been swept away, and various property had been lost; and he voted in an Aspen election in 1861.
The petition was supposedly circulated circa 1589 among emigrants on the California Trail who traveled the Lander Cutoff through Wyoming. This route would have taken Sam beyond Colorado on his trip out. If this had been the case, he would have first gone to California in 1858 or '59, then back to Colorado by 1861, then back to California by 1862 where he supposedly hauled freight between Sacramento and Austin, Nevada.
Possible. But likely?
What's more, this would put the kabosh on Joe's tale of Sam walking into Denver, with bare feet, when the town was just a few cabins on Cherry Creek — which would seem to date the tale at 1859 at the latest. If Sam had gone to Colorado before continuing on his way to California, the Lander Road seems an unlikely route, and too late to sign the petition.
CAlifornia Trail
But what if the petition was circulated on the way out, before the wagons had reached the cutoff? Sam may have signed because this was the intended route of his wagon train, but then later continued on his own to Cherry Creek after hearing of the discovery of gold.
I don't know if this can be determined one way or the other, but it would seem to make the chronology clearer — Sam detoured for two years before continuing on to the coast.
The Blonger - The Blongers Come To Denver
www.blongerbros.com, 15 Nov 2007 [cached]
Sam Belonger, when a boy of 18, walked barefoot with a wagon train across the ground where Denver, Colorado now stands. There were only two cabins then. At one time, about six miles east of where Denver's capitol-building now stands, Sam Belonger and Buffalo Bill Cody, while on a scouting trip, were chased and surrounded by a war party of eight Indians. Their only chance to survive the fight was to shoot their horses and use the bodies for breastworks. Both Uncle Sam and Buffalo Bill, being dead shots with rifles, killed all eight Indians and escaped.
We do know Sam went west by wagon train on the California Trail, apparently in 1859 — he signed a petition as one of thousands who had traveled the Lander Road through Wyoming that season. Had Sam arrived in Denver at that time, it would, indeed, have been a motley collection of buildings in an area that had seen only Indian camps and prospectors only a year or so before. But one has to assume that after his initial passage to California, he would have to wait until 1860 to return. While there may not be much truth in the preceding paragraph, we do know from voting records that Sam was in Colorado by 1861, so his early visit, at least, is not improbable.
...
After the Civil War, Sam returned to the Midwest, and soon took up with younger brother Lou, embarking on a journey across the western territories, hopping from gold camp to gold camp, prospecting, saloonkeeping, and gambling.
...
Sam and Lew Blonger, at The Palace, are selling whisky and cigars as usual at two bits per drink.
...
Though Sam and Lou undoubtedly visited Denver occasionally in their travels, they probably first spent real time there during the years 1879, '80 and '81. The Blongers were active in Leadville and Denver at the time. Eldest brother Simon and youngest Marvin were there, in the mining business, perhaps working with Sam and Lou. Simon would do a short stint as an assemblyman, and go on to to become superintendent of the Robert E. Lee mine. A Blonger, probably Lou, had a theater in nearby Georgetown and Sam ran for mayor of Leadville in 1879. Sam, his wife Ella and son Frank are listed in the federal census of Denver in 1880, Lou and Sam (again) are listed in Leadville. Sam, his wife Ella and son Frank are listed in the federal census of Denver in 1880, Lou and Sam (again) are listed in Leadville.
...
Sam and Lou may have owned a saloon in Denver around 1880, as Van Cise claimed, or that may have come later, in the late 80s.
...
By 1882, Sam and Lou went to the southwest for a while, where they worked as lawmen — in the only confirmed instance, Sam as town marshal of New Albuquerque, and Lou his deputy, and then as private detectives. But here they also may have used their status as lawmen (perhaps for the first time) to benefit themselves and others by protecting the bunko trade, including, perhaps, his own deputies.
...
Sam took to horseracing, and had his horses shipped to races throughout Colorado and New Mexico. Though it appears Sam and Lou were not together during this period, Lou could easily have spent a great deal of time with his brother on the road. Deming may just have been his home base.
By 1888, following Kitty Blonger's trial for murder in Arizona, Sam and Lou took up residence in Denver and would make it their permanent base of operations.
Blonger Bros. - Search For The Blonger Bros.: November 2009
www.blongerbros.com, 1 Nov 2009 [cached]
For the record, I have for a long time had a problem reconciling two known facts regarding Sam's journey West, to wit; Sam signed a petition asking the federal government to build a bridge over the Snake River, where one traveler had been swept away, and various property had been lost; and he voted in an Aspen election in 1861.
The petition was supposedly circulated circa 1589 among emigrants on the California Trail who traveled the Lander Cutoff through Wyoming. This route would have taken Sam beyond Colorado on his trip out. If this had been the case, he would have first gone to California in 1858 or '59, then back to Colorado by 1861, then back to California by 1862 where he supposedly hauled freight between Sacramento and Austin, Nevada.
Possible. But likely?
What's more, this would put the kabosh on Joe's tale of Sam walking into Denver, with bare feet, when the town was just a few cabins on Cherry Creek — which would seem to date the tale at 1859 at the latest. If Sam had gone to Colorado before continuing on his way to California, the Lander Road seems an unlikely route, and too late to sign the petition.
CAlifornia Trail
But what if the petition was circulated on the way out, before the wagons had reached the cutoff? Sam may have signed because this was the intended route of his wagon train, but then later continued on his own to Cherry Creek after hearing of the discovery of gold.
I don't know if this can be determined one way or the other, but it would seem to make the chronology clearer — Sam detoured for two years before continuing on to the coast.
...
Finally, in February of 1895, Sam is elected to the board of directors of the Free Gold Mining & Milling Co.
...
I take it back... On re-reading our materials about the Lander Cutoff, it appears that the petition was initiated in 1859 — seeming to indicate Sam traveled at this time, and not in 1858 — and that those who signed it had already traveled the road. This puts us back at square one. Did Sam go to California, then back to Colorado, then back to California? Apparently...
...
Sam Belonger, when a boy of 18, walked barefoot with a wagon train across the ground where Denver, Colorado now stands. There were only two cabins then.
As Sam was born in March of 1839, he would have arrived in Denver in 1857 (before the discovery of gold at Cherry Creek) or 1858.
In 1858, it would cetainly be possible for Sam to encounter a nascent Denver City. By late in 1859, he would have found a boomtown.
The account tries to add weight to the first point with an even taller tale:
At one time, about six miles east of where Denver's capitol-building now stands, Sam Belonger and Buffalo Bill Cody, while on a scouting trip, were chased and surrounded by a war party of eight Indians.
...
But only two votes for Denver, and one against; if Sam went from Minnesota to California he would have had to detour to Denver on the way West to be there in 1859, continuing on later that year or early the next to California, backtracking through Wyoming to take the Lander Road.
Maybe it's more prudent to accept the more obvious interpretation: that he went to California, then returned east to Colorado in the next year or two, as Denver grew into a bustling boomtown.
...
Sam is the only reasonable candidate, and we therefore state with some certainty that Sam was indeed in Colorado by 1861.
On the other hand — Sam signed a petition submitted to Congress in February of 1861:
...
This would seem to certify that Sam traveled the Lander Road to California in 1859 or 1860. His train consisted of seven wagons, seventeen people, and 129 head of stock. His residence is listed as Minnesota, and the train's destination is listed as California.
...
Any answer would go a long way toward determining the veracity of Armstrong's claim, that Sam visited Denver by early 1859. He surely visited by 1861.
Sam Belonger, when a boy of ...
www.blongerbros.com, 15 Nov 2007 [cached]
Sam Belonger, when a boy of 18, walked barefoot with a wagon train across the ground where Denver, Colorado now stands.There were only two cabins then.At one time, about six miles east of where Denver's capitol-building now stands, Sam Belonger and Buffalo Bill Cody, while on a scouting trip, were chased and surrounded by a war party of eight Indians.Their only chance to survive the fight was to shoot their horses and use the bodies for breastworks.Both Uncle Sam and Buffalo Bill, being dead shots with rifles, killed all eight Indians and escaped.
We do know Sam went west by wagon train on the California Trail.Given Sam's stated age, he would have arrived in Denver in 1857 or 1858, at a time when the place was, indeed, a motley collection of buildings in an area that had seen only Indian camps and prospectors only a year or so before.While there may not be much truth in the preceding paragraph, we do know from voting records that Sam was in Colorado by 1861, so his early visit, at least, is not improbable.
...
After the Civil War, Sam returned to he Midwest, and soon took up with younger brother Lou, embarking on a journey across the western territories, hopping from gold camp to gold camp, prospecting, saloonkeeping, and gambling.
...
Sam and Lew Blonger, at The Palace, are selling whisky and cigars as usual at two bits per drink.
...
Though Sam and Lou undoubtedly visited Denver occasionally in their travels, they probably first spent real time there during the years 1879, '80 and '81.The Blongers were active in Leadville and Denver at the time.Eldest brother Simon and youngest Marvin were there, in the mining business, perhaps working with Sam and Lou.Simon would do a short stint as an assemblyman, and go on to to become superintendent of the Robert E. Lee mine.A Blonger, probably Lou, had a theater in nearby Georgetown and Sam ran for mayor of Leadville in 1879.Sam, his wife Ella and son Frank are listed in the federal census of Denver in 1880, Lou and Sam (again) are listed in Leadville.Sam, his wife Ella and son Frank are listed in the federal census of Denver in 1880, Lou and Sam (again) are listed in Leadville.
...
Sam and Lou may have owned a saloon in Denver around 1880, as Van Cise claimed, or that may have come later, in the late 80s.
...
By 1882, Sam and Lou went to the southwest for a while, where they worked as lawmen , in the only confirmed instance, Sam as town marshal of New Albuquerque, and Lou his deputy, and then as private detectives.But here they also may have used their status as lawmen (perhaps for the first time) to benefit themselves and others by protecting the bunko trade, including, perhaps, his own deputies.
...
Sam took to horseracing, and had his horses shipped to races throughout Colorado and New Mexico.Though it appears Sam and Lou were not together during this period, Lou could easily have spent a great deal of time with his brother on the road.Deming may just have been his home base for a while , or perhaps not all.
By 1888, following Kitty Blonger's trial for murder in Arizona, Sam and Lou took up residence in Denver and would make it their permanent base of operations.
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