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Story of The Lake County War

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Back when Chaffee County was known as Lake County, not to be confused with present-day Lake County, a feud broke out in 1874 with the murder of George Harrington. Going outside one night to put out a fire in an outbuilding, he was shot in the back. People immediately suspected Eric Gibbs, as he and Harrington had recently argued. When Gibbs was found not guilty, friends of Harrington were unsatisfied. They went to Gibbs' cabin and threatened to burn it down with his family inside if he didn't come out to be lynched.

 

Instead, Gibbs opened fire. The scuffle resulted in three men lying dead. Gibbs then turned himself over to the Justice of the Peace, was tried, found not guilty by reason of self-defense, and high-tailed it out of the area.

 

His attackers, however, still lusted for revenge. They formed a "Committee of Safety" to threateningly interrogate witnesses and supporters of Gibbs to get them to confess that they thought him guilty. When Judge Elias Dyer called for the arrest of 16 of these vigilantes, he was himself murdered. The guilty party or parties were never brought to justice, with the conflict eventually petering out.

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