Hungate Family Murdered
Sand Creek Massacre News Release
June 2, 2014
1864's Turning Point: Hungate Family Murdered
This article is part of a series by the National Park Service concerning the 150th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.
Often given as a cause for the savagery of the massacre on Sand Creek, the murder of the Hungate Family forms one of the mysteries of 1864's sordid history. Nathan (29 years), Ellen (25), Laura (2 ½) and Florence (under 6 mos.) Hungate were killed along Running or Box Elder Creek at or near the cabin of their employer, Isaac P. Van Wormer.
25 miles southeast of downtown Denver at about on
Although many speculated about suspects in the murders, a single individual or group has never been identified to a reasonable certainty. Many Coloradans blamed the Cheyenne or Arapaho, as reflected in the Coroner's inquest on June 14. It stated that the family, "... came to their death by being feloniously killed by some person or persons to the jury unknown, but supposed to be Indians[.]"
However, even experienced frontiersman Jim Beckwourth doubted the family had been killed by either the Cheyenne or Arapaho because of the manner of death,according to the June 15th Daily Commonwealth. After four burials and three exhumations, their remains finally came to rest at Denver's Fairmount Cemetery in late July 1892.
To find out more about the Hungate Murders, go to www.nps.gov/sand or visit the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site outside of Eads, Colorado.
Did You Know?
On September 28, 1864 Cheyenne Chiefs Black Kettle and White Antelope, with other Cheyenne and Arapaho, met in council with Colorado Governor John Evans and Colonel John Chivington. Held at Camp Weld near Denver, Major Edward Wynkoop, commander at Fort Lyon arranged the council and anticipated peace.