The Colorado Genealogist, Volume No. 80, No 1, February 2019

Excerpt from "The Distance Between Heaven and Hell" by Neal Ashmun

My grandfather, Neal Dilley was an ambulance driver during WW I in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) at the battle of the Marne near Soissons France.  On September 6, 1918, he wrote home to his parents in Logan County, Colorado from a hospital in Tour France, “There is one strange thing to me – here in many other places in France the country is inspiring and beautiful, while in the war zone it just the opposite...in some cases there is only a few miles between the two scenes so to me and others who have seen something of both of these scenes, it is very hard to realize that two such conditions exist in the same country, in fact within only a few hours travel of each other, but after all, perhaps the actual distance between heaven and hell is not so great after all.”[1]


[1]Newspaper article, “Letter from Neal Dilley to his parents Sumner and Louisa Dilley”, published in the Merino Breeze, exact date unknown, from family archives of Neal Ashmun

The Distance between Heaven and Hell, by Neal Ashmun

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The Colorado Genealogist, Volume 79, number 3, August 2018

Excerpt from "Mining Your Colorado Ancestors" by Neal Ashmun

In 1952 Dick D’Orsay wrote to his brother, “I don’t know why I always get stuck with these undesirable jobs, but I do, in a way I consider it a compliment, but that doesn’t put money in the bank.”  My great-uncle Dick was a miner at the Climax Molybdenum mine in Colorado.  He continued, “In order to drive one of these raises I have to drill straight up getting water, mud, and cuttings in my eyes, ears, mouth and neck.  It takes 30, seven foot holes to bust that hard rock, instead of light loads I have to use a hundred lbs of dynamite on the “round” on account of the toughness of the ground.”[1]He died of Lupus still on the Climax mine payroll in 1956.

Do you have a Colorado miner in your family tree and wonder what his life was like?  “In 1859 prospectors from Georgia found gold in gravel deposits in Cherry Creek just south of Denver… Since 1859 Colorado’s mines have produced 45 million ounces of gold.” [2]  In addition to gold, Colorado proved rich in other minerals like silver, coal, uranium, semi-precious stones, and rock materials (sand, gravel, crushed stone, gypsum, limestone, clay, etc.) for infrastructure building.  According to the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado has over 280,000 mining claims to date.[3]


[1]Correspondence between Richard Francis D’Orsay, explorer and Treasure Hunter & his brother Elmer Sixay Dorsay& his sister-in-law Manci Dorsay & his nephew Frank S. Dorsay,1942- 1957, family archives of Neal Ashmun

[2]Colorado Geological Survey, History, website. http://coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/mineral-resources/general/history/accessed by Neal Ashmun, 6 July 2018

[3]The Diggings, https://thediggings.com/usa/colorado#page-gallery, accessed by Neal Ashmun, 6 July 2018

Mining Your Colorado Ancestors, By Neal Ashmun

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