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From: "Bill Carney" <>
Subject: [CARNEY-L] Former Lt. Governor CARNEY of Colorado
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 22:58:45 -0400

I found this obituary at and
thought I would forward it here. As many of you know, many of my Carney
ancestors were brickmasons, as was this gentleman.

Obit - Carney, Francis Patrick, Ouray County, Colorado

Transcribed and donated by Claire Edrich <>
February 3, 1999

Obituary was published in the Denver Post, Denver Colorado,
May 5, 1902.

- ---------------------------------------------------------------

"Francis Carney"

Record of the Former Lieutenant Governor, Who Has Now Passed to the
Great Beyond

Ouray, Colorado, May 5 Western Colorado is in deep mourning today
over the death last evening of former Lieutenant Governor Francis P.
Carney, who succumbed to paralysis after a long and painful illness.
Mr. Carney's death was not unexpected. Three days ago, the attending
physicians announced that dissolution was but a matter of hours, but
Mr. Carney's wonderful vitality kept him alive until yesterday.
Several hours before death came, the invalid became unconscious and
remained so until the last.

His relatives, including his nephew, Fred Carney, who came from
Denver last night, were with him when he died.

Mr. Carney has been in failing health for more than a year. In fact,
he began to show signs of illness before he retired from the office
of lieutenant governor, and spent a portion of the winter of 1899-
1900 in California in the hope of regaining strength. He has been
declining rapidly during the last year.

While at times he appeared to make slight gains over the insidious
malady which was slowly sapping his strength, all his vitality was
finally exhausted, and succumbed after a protracted struggle. During
the last few months of his life, Mr. Carney had become so feeble that
he was unable to assist himself in any way, and it was necessary to
administer to him as though he were an infant.

Deceased leaves a widow, who resides at the old Carney home in this
city, surrounded by the members of the family still living. Five of
eight children are still living, Patrick F., an attorney of Denver;
Annie, Hugh J., Francis, Jr., and John. In addition to these he
leaves a brother, John, who has been a resident of this city for many
years and one sister in Watkins, N. Y.

Francis Carney enjoyed the unique distinction of being the only man
on record in Colorado who during his public career refused to accept
railway passes. He served the state for two years as a member of the
house of representatives, four years as a state senator, and one term
as lieutenant governor.

Courtesies in the way of transportation were never alluring to the
"common-sensed statesman from the San Juan", and under no
circumstances would he receive them.

When Mr. Carney was elected to the senate he, like the other senator,
was offered annuals over all the roads in the state, besides being
given to understand that trip passes could be had for their political
friends on application.

The Ouray senator, however, returned all his passes to the donors
with thanks.

"I can pay my fare whenever I want to travel, so why should I place
myself under obligations to the railroad companies?" he said to his

Mr. Carney's course was not surprising to those who knew him well,
but to that portion of the general public who are on to the ways of
the men who make up a legislature, his actions created somewhat of a
sensation. The railroad officials were shocked.

"What manner of public official is this that will refuse
transportation?" they asked of themselves.

Certainly no one like him had ever been heard of before in Colorado,
at least.

By his independent attitude on the pass question, Senator Carney was
enabled to vote, on all matters concerning railroads with much
consistency. He was not necessarily antagonistic to them, but he
invariable voted his conscience, which is claimed to be an
impossibility with a legislator loaded down with railroad passes.

Won at Manual Labor

Mr. Carney throughout his career has been noted for his integrity and
honesty of purpose. He was invariably found on the side of the under
dog, even though he was the possessor of a fair sized fortune
himself. A bricklayer by occupation, he was thrifty and saved enough
money to of into business as a building contractor in Ouray. He made
his money at this and in mining.

Mr. Carney made an excellent lieutenant governor.

Frequently during Governor Thomas' absence from the state, he
occupied the gubernatorial chair, filling it with credit to the state
and to himself. Sometimes, he lacked gubernatorial dignity, however.
On one occasion during an exceedingly hot spell in July, Acting
Governor Carney transferred the executive office to the lawn on the
shady side of the capitol building, and there he transacted business,
signed papers, and dictated executive orders and proclamations.

He explained that having been accustomed to an outdoor life, it was
very uncomfortable for him to remain inside, especially during the
warm summer days.

The other state officials smiled at the sight of the executive
department doing business in the open air, but Governor Carney
carried out his novel idea until cooler weather came.

But he made a good governor and Governor Thomas never feared leaving
the affairs of state in his hands.

It is said that he also declined railroad courtesies while he was
lieutenant governor.

It is a strange coincidence that he, with Davis H. Waite and former
Adjutant General T.J. Tarsney, were among the organizers of the
original Populist party, all of them having died within the past six

Mr. Carney was always enthusiastically endorsed for office by the
labor unions, which found in him an able champion.

During the absences of Governor Adams, when Lieutenant Governor
Carney was acting governor, many incidents occurred which caused the
state house employees to remember and revere him. Upon one occasion
an old woman who had persistently annoyed Governor Thomas with
appeals for charity came to the office. The private secretary
peremptorily refused her admission. A half hour afterward, when the
private secretary and some callers were chatting with Acting Governor
Carney, the door was opened and the old woman walked in. Without
waiting for an initiation, she began her story and poured out most
volubly a tale of woe she had conned and committed as a child learns
a recitation.

Mr. Carney waited until she finished the yarn and then asked: "Where
do you want to go?"

"Ouray", she answered.

"All right. Here's a dollar. Anyone who has the good sense to go to
Ouray must be all right."

Apparently the mendicant had learned that Mr. Carney had built the
town, and that the tide of his local patriotism ran high.

Francis Carney, lieutenant governor of Colorado from 1898 to 1900,
was born in the county Fermanagh, Ireland, on the 20th day of
September, 1846. County Fermanagh is in the north of Ireland, a
distinction immigrants from Erin's isle are always very careful to
have understood. When he was 13 years of age, he came with his
parents to the United States and located at Corning, N. Y. Three
years later They moved to Watkins, New York. It was here young
Carney obtained his education in the school of the town and afterward
at Watkins academy.

Young Carney earned his first month's salary as a bookkeeper, but,
the work was too prosaic and confining to suit his sanguine
temperament, so he resigned, and after learning the stonemason's
trade he came West. After spending a short time in the state, he
located at Ouray, where he has since made his home. It is nearly
thirty years since he first came to Colorado. Here he branched out as
a builder and contractor, and every building of any consequence in
Ouray was built by him. He usually worked side by side with the men
he hired.

In 1879 Mr. Carney was elected county commissioner of Ouray county
for a term of three years and served in a most satisfactory manner as
chairman of the board until he found that his devotion to the
county's affairs was hurting his business, when he resigned.

In the fall of 1892 he was elected to the house of representatives on
the Populist ticket. He was a leading and influential member of the
ninth general assembly and special sessions. In 1894 he was elected
to the state senate and served four years with honor to himself and
satisfaction to his constituents. He was elected lieutenant governor
of the state in 1898 and his long experience of state and legislative
affairs made him one of the best presiding officers Colorado ever
had. The fairness of his decisions caused him to be held in high

During the convention that nominated him as lieutenant governor he
was working as a stone mason on a building, and even when nominated
he refused to leave his work. Notwithstanding this he was most
grateful for the honor and so expressed himself to everyone who had
voted for him.

When he first went to Ouray, the Indians were yet hostile, and it was
the custom to go to Ouray by a round-about route in order to avoid
passing through the country where the Indians lived. Mr. Carney,
however, coming back from the East, sent his brother John with the
wagons and supplies by the longer route but he himself struck across
country with his pack pony and went through the heart of the Indian
country. Later he and Chief Ouray became great friends, and it was
due to Mr. Carney's influence that the former warrior exhorted his
people to preserve the peace.

A Friend of Labor

>From the earliest time that he became interested in politics he was
an ardent friend of labor. He was largely instrumental in organizing
the Federal union, an auxiliary to the miner's union in Ouray. In
many other ways he showed his practical sympathy with the cause and
most consistently he always granted to his numerous employees the
privileges he advocated theoretically. Among the labor unions of the
state of Colorado no other name is more highly revered than that of
Francis Carney.

The story which Mr. Carney was fond of telling was the way in which
he put Lieutenant Governor Coates into politics. Mr. Coates, it
seems, was due to make a speech at Silverton, and was considerably
nervous about it, as it was his maiden effort, and he was anxious to
impress the people favorable. He went to Mr. Carney and told him his
tribulations. After trying to infuse more confidence into the young
man, Mr. Carney reluctantly promised to drop his work long enough to
go with him. on the long drive to Silverton, Coates grew more
perturbed as he neared the town. Finally he persuaded Carney to open
the meeting and to speak until Coates had acquired his presence of
mind. Mr. Carney did as he was requested, but he launched off into a
talk about labor, his favorite subject, and he forgot all about the
anxious Coates, now ready and more than willing to begin. By dint of
strenuous signs and stage whispers, Coates endeavored to get Mr.
Carney to yield the floor to him, but it was not until after an hour
had passed that he happened to recollect Coates. By this time the
younger man was more at a loss what to say than ever, for Carney's
speech had been a most brilliant one, and unconsciously Carney had
covered much of the ground for which Coates had prepared. it was the
most inauspicious occasion imaginable for a young man, and Coates
insisted upon backing out.

Mr. Carney, however, went on with the introduction to the audience,
and then grabbed Coates by the arm and practically led him to the
front of the rostrum. Then he stood close behind him, ready to
prompt him whenever it was necessary, but a sudden inspiration had
come to the young man, and he made a splendid speech. Nevertheless,
he admits that had it not been for his friend Carney he might have
disappointed the people that day and made impossible the career that
has since been his. Mr. Carney made many friends, and since his
recent illness hundreds of inquiries have been made concerning the
probabilities of his recovery. In some respects he was one of the
most remarkable men who has taken part in the making of the history
of Colorado.

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