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ON THIS DAY IN COLORADO HISTORY – SPIRITUAL LESSONS FROM THE CENTENIAL STATE
September 14th, 2021
Scripture: But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Luke 6:24 NASB
On September 14, 1902, Winfield Scott Stratton died in Colorado Springs. Stratton was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1848, and arrived in the Colorado Springs area in 1868. He worked as a carpenter, but was caught up with gold fever and took up prospecting. He discovered the Independence Lode near Victor on July 4, 1891, and became the first millionaire in the Cripple Creek mining district. Stratton was known for his generosity. Following the Cripple Creek fire of 1896, he paid for food and shelter for thousands of miners and their families who were left homeless. He gave money to miners down on their luck, but grew weary of people seeking him out for money. He grew more and more reclusive and eccentric and drank heavily. In 1900, he sold the Independence Mine to Venture Corporation of London for $10 million. When the mine played out, Venture sued Stratton, accusing him of salting the mine. They lost their suit in American courts.
When Stratton died he left his estate for the establishment of the Myron Stratton Home for the aged, poor and dependent children. The home was named for his father Myron Stratton. The estate was challenged in court by his son Isaac, the Venture Corporation and 13 women who claimed to have secretly married him. After all of the litigation, only $6 million was left for the home, which was established in 1913. Stratton also funded the Colorado Springs and Interurban Railway, a trolley system that connected Colorado Springs with Manitou Springs. He also funded the Short Line railroad. Stratton gave $25,000 for the establishment of the Colorado School of Mines at Golden. He was made a trustee and served as president of the board at the Colorado School of Mines, where Stratton Hall is named for him.
The town of Stratton on I-70 in eastern Colorado was named for Stratton, honoring him for his philanthropy. In the 2010 census, Stratton had a population of 658. It is predominantly an agricultural community in Kit Carson County. One of the interesting churches in Stratton is St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
Stratton had a heart of compassion and used his wealth to better the lot of many people. The Myron Stratton Home in Colorado Springs is still a refuge for the poor and elderly. As time passed Stratton became increasingly reclusive. Often those with wealth are dogged by people looking for a handout. They can then begin to think that anyone desiring a relationship with them is out for their money. Even after his death there were gold-diggers after his millions. It took 13 years to litigate Stratton’s will. Many in Colorado Springs did not desire a “Poor House” in their community. A desirable location was found near the famous Broadmoor Hotel. Stratton’s will specified that no more than $1 million could be spent on the property and building. The remainder was to go into a trust to be used for funding the staff and maintenance. At that time Stratton’s fortune was valued at $4.4 million. Currently the trust is valued at more than $152 million. Stratton dreamed of becoming rich. His dream was fulfilled in a manner greater than he imagined. He had all the comforts of life, but lived his later years as an eccentric and recluse. He did use great foresight in funding the Myron Stratton Home, which has been assisting the poor and elderly for more than a century.
The Bible is full of guidance for the rich and poor. The principle is that money is neither good nor evil in itself, it is only as we use our financial resources that our heart is revealed. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Christ taught that where our heart is there is our treasure also.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the treasure you have entrusted to me. Help me never to let it displace my faith in You. Help me to guard my heart and to be generous to others.