September 25 - Colorado Cash

Story topics

On September 25, 1899, Paul Laurence Dunbar deposited $506 in the First National Bank of Denver, Colorado.  About two weeks earlier, he had arrived in Denver along with his wife Alice and mother Matilda.  Following the advice of doctors, Paul went to the Rocky Mountains seeking relief from tuberculosis.

First National Bank, in Acc't with Dunbar P. L.


9/25 Dep       506

First National Bank account booklet, 1899 - 1900.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).

Two months later, Paul signed a contract with his publisher, Dodd, Mead & Company, for Poems of Cabin and Field, a book of poetry illustrated with photographs.  There was no explicit reference to a cash advance, although the figure $800.00 is written in the margin.  His publisher also issued his semi-annual royalty check in February 1900.  And Paul made public appearances in Colorado, which may have supplemented his income. 

This agreement is made the twenty-fifth day of November in the year 1899 by and between Paul Laurence Dunbar and Dodd, Mead & Company, of the City of New York.  The party of the first part being the author and proprietor of a work entitled Poems of Cabin and Field.

Contract for "Poems of Cabin and Field," November 25, 1899.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 2).

Dr. Aylesworth, president of the State Agricultural college, is receiving compliments on the success which has attended the fall term of the college over which he presides.  The lectures of Dr. Aylesworth upon living authors have attracted attention to a field which is little studied.  Paul Laurence Dunbar, now in this city for the winter, is the subject of one of his lectures.  Dunbar has accepted an invitation from the Agricultural college to appear on the platform before he leaves Colorado for the east.

"Compliments to President."  January 13, 1900.  Fort Collins Express (Fort Collins, Colorado).  Page 8.

Paul's trip to Colorado was mentioned in a letter from T. Thomas Fortune to Booker T. Washington.  Fortune was a journalist and poet, as well as the founder and editor of an influential African American newspaper.

I too understand that Dunbar is in a bad way and has gone to Colorado Springs.  When I last saw him he declared that he would not go near Colorado, so I judge from his going that he is in worse shape than when I saw him last.  Then I did not think he would live six months.  If he pulls through the winter I shall be surprised.

Timothy Thomas Fortune to Booker T. Washington, September 23, 1899.  Booker T. Washington Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

Despite Fortune's prediction, Paul's health improved in the Rocky Mountains, and so did his finances.  The final entry in his Colorado bank booklet, dated May 28, 1900, shows that he had $600.53 in his account.