When I was a kid, there were often commercials on television and radio that introduced me to the mystical destination of Pueblo, Colorado. These were usually seen or heard on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Viewers, like me, were introduced to the wonderful world of free, printed advice and information from our U.S. Government via these public service announcements. It was just so easy, all you had to do was call the given telephone number, or write a letter to the address shown on the screen—Consumer Information Catalog, Pueblo, Colorado 81009. Free information, what a great thing to have!
This famous Pueblo location is actually one of two distribution facilities operated by the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Agency Distribution Services. Its mission is to store and ship out government publications on behalf of Federal agencies to the public. The other distribution site is in Laurel, Maryland, but this destination doesn’t intrigue me in the least. Perhaps Colorado residents had the same feeling about Laurel, similar to what the rest of us felt toward Pueblo?
This was years before any of us had heard the word internet. Nowadays, free information and advice is readily available at your fingertips. As for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Agency Distribution Services, the Consumer Information Center continues to pump out the goods. In a visit to the GPO’s website (https://pueblo.gpo.gov/Publications/PuebloPubs.php), I learned that the number of distributed material bundles recently reached an incredible milestone—one billion and one thousand million.
I haven’t thought about Pueblo, Colorado until recently seeking “information and advice” on an individual buried here at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland. This was something distinctly connected to Pueblo, so I had no reason to go to nearby Laurel instead.
My research focused on a 42-year-old former native and resident of Frederick named Granville Zacharias. His marble grave monument is not ornate, or outstanding in any way. As a matter of fact, his rectangular, upright stone is pretty uniform, standing in a row of others just the same. This group consists of siblings of the deceased, all dying in various stages in life. They all stand in the shadow of a large 13-foot monument dedicated to the memory of their parents, Daniel and Catherine Zacharias.
Granville’s father was the Rev. Dr. Daniel Zacharias, a legend in church annals, and an individual who led Frederick’s Evangelical German Reformed Church for 38 years (1835 and 1873). I soon discovered an amazing irony between father and son as both men were charged with maintaining “flocks of sheep”—both figuratively and literally. Both men would be involved in this endeavor up until the times of their death.
I will share more about Dr. Zacharias in next week’s blog entry, but for now, I’d like to share what little I know about Granville Zacharias. For this I need to take you to Pueblo, Colorado and the year 1877. But first, a scant bit of backstory.
Granville Zacharias was born on November 16, 1835. His father had just come to Frederick, a busy crossroads town on the National Road that had just gotten busier thanks to the arrival of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in town a few years prior. Frederick was not only a center for talented craftsmen and light industry, it was a hub oasis surrounded my rich farmland in every direction.
Being the son of a clergyman had its advantages as well as disadvantages surely. I'm assuming the family lived on Church Street in close proximity to the church, if not next to it. Granville was the second oldest of eight children, the oldest male. He would receive his early education in the church, as well as the Frederick Academy located a block from his W. Patrick Street home.
Just days into the new year of 1877, and Granville Zacharias found himself 1,650 miles from home. Colorado had just been admitted as a state five months before. The minister’s son was working diligently to erase debts that he had wrung up earlier in California, where he had formerly lived for many years. He had recently purchased sheep from a Dr. Smallwood and Mr. T.T. Hershberger. He was giving the gentlemen chattel mortgages in payment. He had been raised in a large family, one made even larger based on his father’s profession. Now, he was alone with no one at all. He never had want of anything in younger days, but now found that he had little more than the clothes on his back and his health. Soon, he would lose the latter in the blink of an eye. A horrible accident was to blame, one that was nobody’s fault. Granville Zacharias was just attempting to be a good shepherd, something his father ingrained in his mind, body and soul over his lifetime.
January 11, 1877 would be his last. An early “publication” from Pueblo, Colorado gave me the information and advice that I was seeking. The following account was found in the town’s Daily Chieftain newspaper, dated January 14th, 1877 under the headline “Death of Granville Zacharias”:
Mr. Granville Zacharias died in this city on Thursday morning from a wound in his leg, caused by the accidental discharge of his own pistol. The deceased kept a flock of sheep, and having lost some of them, was engaged in hunting the stray animals on the prairie this side of the Chico. When in a lonesome place several miles from any settlement, a rabbit jumped up in front of him and he drew his pistol to shoot it. The animal disappeared from view and Mr. Zacharias attempted to return the weapon – a large dragoon pistol, to the scabbard, neglecting to let down the hammer. The pistol was discharged, the ball entering the rear of the leg above the knee and ranging downward, how far is not known.
The shooting happened in the morning and the deceased managed to walk about half a mile from the scene of the accident towards his camp. He was able to go no further and towards evening was discovered by one of his own herders who was also in search of sheep. Mr. Zacharias had had some high words with this man a few days before about some sheep that had been smothered, and the herder feared that the wounded man might die before any third party could arrive, and he (the herder) would be accused of having killed him.
The herder gave Mr. Zacharias his blankets and coat and made him as comfortable as possible, while the former ran with all possible speed to the camp, secured a team and brought the unfortunate man in. The sufferer was brought to town so that he might have good surgical attendance. Mortification soon set in and in a few days death supervened. His physician would have amputated the wounded limb but the condition of the patient was such that certain death would have resulted.
In August 1871, Granville’s mother had bought lot 187 within the cemetery's Area C. This is where the gravestone of Granville Zacharias resides today. But does Granville, himself, lie below the surface? He’s listed in our records as being here, but I can’t find definitive proof that he does, but surely could. I have since located information online saying that the ill-fated sheep herder could be buried in what is known as Pioneer Cemetery on the north edge of Pueblo, Colorado. This was Pueblo’s first, permanent burying ground established in 1870 when a Masonic Lodge purchased 80 acres from the US Government. No stone exists at this place, but apparently this is where Granville’s lifeless body was laid to rest on that lonely day in January, 1877.
Perhaps I should contact the Consumer Information Center in Pueblo for assistance? In closing, I guess it could be safe to venture that Granville, himself, could be the rogue sheep that got away from Frederick’s beloved Zacharias flock. We may never know the truth, but at least his life and memory continued to be cherished by family members and friends within the confines of Frederick’s “Cemetery Beautiful.”
Header image for story: Vincent Van Gogh's Shepherd with a Flock (1884)