Article contributed by Abbott Fay & Steve Sumrall
July 4, 1883 was a tragic day of unprecedented magnitude in the history of Grand County. The booming mine town of Grand Lake had managed to move the county seat from Hot Sulphur Springs a year earlier and there was growing animosity between the “lake” and “springs” residents.
On that fateful day, County Commissioners Barney Day and Edward P. Weber, supporters of Hot Sulphur Springs as the County Seat, had breakfasted with County Clerk Thomas J. Dean. As the three left the hotel beside the lake, they were ambushed by four masked men. After the smoke cleared, it was determined that the perpetrators were John Mills (the 3rd County Commissioner), Sheriff Charles Royer, Undersheriff William Redman and his brother, Mann.
Day died instantly, Weber died the next morning, and Dean died from infection on July 17th. But Day fired back back, killing one of the masked assailants, who later turned out to be Commissioner Mills. The other three escaped.
The sheriff and undersheriff had quickly returned to Hot Sulphur Springs and shortly after, they were sent for to investigate the very crime they, themselves had committed! Sheriff Royer shot himself on the night of the 15th and his body was discovered the next day.
Dean later testified that Mills shot Weber, Redman shot Dean, Day shot Mills and Readman and Royer shot Day.
Undersheriff Redman disappeared shortly thereafter, apparently shot. A body was found later on the Utah border thought to be Redman but there was no positive ID. The body was suspected to be Redman from the size of his feet. Whether he killed himself or was murdered was never determined, but nonetheless, if it was Redman, he was the sixth victim of the Grand Lake Commissioner shoot-out. It is interesting to note that all three commissioners killed had been appointed to office rather than elected.
Ironically, the county seat was moved back to Hot Sulphur Springs several years later.
Abbott Fay. To Think That This Happened In Grand County!, Grand County Historical Association, 1999
Robert Black. Island in the Rockies, Pruett Publishing, Boulderm CO 1969.