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Identifier: WH94


The collection contains an assortment of original correspondence, diaries, ephemera, scrapbook, real estate related documents, printer sample book, photo album, and photographic portraits of the Dailey family that document the life of John L. Dailey, his wives and their children, as well as his brother, William M. Dailey. Many early documents exhibit damage caused by the 1864 Cherry Creek flood. Although original diaries and accompanying typed transcripts are included, family correspondence is comprised of only typed transcripts. Original family correspondence was retained by the family at the time of purchase from Grace Dailey. The collection has been microfilmed and three reels of microfilm are also included as part of the collection. Patrons should use the microfilm instead of the original materials.


The series contains John L. Dailey's 17 original diaries covering the years: 1853-1861, 1863-1867, 1896-1898, 1901, 1903, and 1905, and these document aspects of his life in Iowa, Nebraska, Dakota Territory and Colorado. Of special interest is the 1864 diary (September-December) when Dailey was a member of Company A of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry during the Sand Creek Massacre that occurred on November 29th. Some of the original diaries show the effects of the Cherry Creek flood of 1864 as the dresser they were stored in was swept into the river. Access to the diaries is restricted; typed transcripts of many of the diaries, as well as microfilm copies, are available.

Family correspondence is made up of typed transcripts (no originals) of letters between members of the Dailey family, their relatives, and friends. Additional ephemera documenting Dailey's involvement with Denver Lodge no. 5 A.F. & A.M. (Masonic), horse breeding, and military travel pass (1861) complete the series.


The series contains documents related primarily to the business and real estate holdings of John Lewis Dailey and his brother, William M. Dailey. Of special interest is the agreement between William Byers and John L. Dailey for the sale of The Rocky Mountain News in 1870. Additional papers related to Dailey's printing businesses -- Dailey, Baker & Smart, Dailey & Smart -- as well as early business correspondence, receipts, land records, and mining stock are included.


The series includes original warranty and quit claim deeds, abstracts of title, deeds of trust, and presidential land grant for John L. Dailey's Broadway Terrace subdivision (1865-1882), as well as for other properties located in Central Denver (1865, 1868, 1872), the Evans addition in what is today known as Civic Center Park (1875), the Auraria (1874) and Capitol Hill (1881) neighborhoods. Legal documents related to William M. Dailey include a presidential land grant for 160 acres of land for what would later become the Lake Archer subdivision (1864), a warranty deed for the Auraria neighborhood (1868), and power of attorney (1871). Additional deeds from Helen A. (Woodbury) Dailey are for property in Cook County, Illinois acquired by her first husband, Hiram Woodbury (1856, 1858).

Included are items related to Dailey's printing companies include a "Job Specimens" volume or printer sample book of examples generated by the companies, Byers & Dailey; Dailey, Baker & Smart; Dailey & Smart; and the Denver Tribune Association (1866-1875). The book appears to have once belonged to E. F. Russell who worked as a foreman for Dailey, Baker & Smart in the 1870s. Additional materials include two copies of the first issue (November 6, 1873) of an early entertainment newspaper, Denver Figaro published by E. F. Russell and printed by the firm of Dailey & Smart.

Concluding the series is Grace Dailey's kindergarten work book (ca.1880) with a written memoir (ca.1930s?) of the first Denver public school to be located south of Cherry Creek. Classes were held in the front parlor of the Dailey house at West 4th Avenue and Bannock Street.


The series contains three reels of microfilm documenting most of the material in the collection. Microfilm reel #1 - Diaries: 1. April 1853-April 1857 (water damage); 2. October 1857- February 1859 (water damage); 3. January-December 1859 (water damage); 4. March-December 1860 (water damage); 5. July 1861 6. May-June 1863 (water damage); 7. September-December 1864; 8. January-December 1865; 9. December 1865-May 1866; 10. March, April, December 1866; 11. January, February, September 1867; 12. 1896; 13. 1897; 14. 1898; 15. 1901; 16. 1903; 17. 1905. Followed by typed transcripts for 2. October 1857- April 1858; January-February 1859; 3. January, March-December 1859; 4. March-December 1860; 7. September-December 1864; 8. January-December 1865; 10. March, April, December 1866; 11. January, February, September 1867; 12. 1896. --- Microfilm reel #2: Correspondence (typed transcripts); deeds; ephemera (does not contain digitized material); Grace Dailey school work book (1880s). --- Microfilm reel #3 - Diaries: 6. May-June 1863; 7. September-December 1864.


The series contains period portraits of John L. Dailey (1860s, 1880s, 1890s), Melisa B. Dailey (1860s), Helen M. Dailey (1850s, 1860s), Grace Dailey (ca.1900), and Nellie M. Dailey a.k.a. Mrs. William M. Dailey (1870s). Additionally a photograph album of views of Mexico, where John L. Dailey and his family vacationed in March 1890, is included. It was during this vacation that his younger brother, William M. Dailey died at Excelsior Springs, Missouri on March 29, 1890.


  • 1853-1930s


The collection is open for research, however original diaries (1853-1905) are fragile and researchers must use microfilm C MSS MFLM27 REELS 1-3.


The John Lewis Dailey papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


John Lewis Dailey, pioneer Denver, Colorado publisher, printer and Arapahoe County Treasurer was born on November 29, 1833 in Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio, the son of William T. Dailey, native of Pennsylvania and Sarah McCormick of Posey County, Ohio. At age 17, Dailey was apprenticed to the printer Thomas Cook in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After his apprenticeship Dailey moved in August 1854 to Fort Des Moines, Iowa to work as a printer. In May 1856 he travelled further west to Omaha, Nebraska. Unable to find employment with the local paper, he worked for a time as a farmhand before returning to Omaha in the fall of 1856. It was during this period that he first met William N. Byers and Henry M. Burt. The three men became involved in land speculation and founded a town in Burt County, Nebraska Territory, called Central City. While Central City was surveyed and a few houses were built during the spring and summer of 1857, the venture was ultimately unsuccessful and the town site was abandoned in the fall.

Dailey then returned to Omaha before moving to Dakota City, Dakota County, Nebraska to publish the Dakota Herald for one year, and then to Sioux City, Iowa to work on another newspaper. Contacted by Byers in late 1858, the two men bought out a printing establishment in Omaha, and in the early spring of 1859, Dailey accompanied the Byers' party, including an oxcart loaded with a printing press westward into Kansas territory. They arrived in what would become present day Denver, Colorado on April 8, 1859. With their Omaha printing press the first issue of the The Rocky Mountain News appeared on April 23, 1859. Besides Dailey, the other founders of the newspaper included William N. Byers, Dr. George Monell, and Thomas Gibson. The final issue of the paper was printed almost 150 years later on Friday, February 27, 2009.

Dailey's partnership with Byers and their involvement with The Rocky Mountain News lasted until October 31, 1870, when Dailey sold his interests to Byers for $6,000.00, a light bay horse named “Prince” and, one California saddle. In 1871 Dailey went into partnership with Nathan A. Baker and Charles W. Smart, forming the printing company of Dailey, Baker & Smart, the first steam-powered printing plant in Denver. The partners gained control of the Denver Daily Times in June 1872. Baker left the company in October 1872 and the firm of Dailey & Smart continued until July 1875 when it was purchased by Frederick J. Stanton, editor and publisher of the Colorado Democrat. In 1876, John L. Dailey became associated with the Rocky Mountain Insurance and Saving Institution of Denver, Colorado as the firm's secretary. Elected Arapahoe County Treasurer in 1877, he served in that capacity until 1883. Dailey was also the first President and member of the Denver Board of Park Commissioners.

Both John L. Dailey and his brother, William, were members of Company A of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry under command of John M. Chivington during the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre. In 1865, the brothers each received 160 acre presidential land grants in today's Baker neighborhood. The Dailey family home was originally located at 4th and Bannock before a larger home was constructed on the 400 block along Broadway. In the 1870s this area was the southernmost populated area of the City of Denver. John L. Dailey eventually acquired considerably more land holdings before platting the subdivision known as Broadway Terrace, which is comprised of nine city blocks bordered by Broadway (West), West 1st Avenue (South), Cherokee Street (East) and West 4th Avenue (North). West 4th Avenue was originally known as Dailey Avenue and Acoma Street was originally named Dailey Street. Dailey Park at E. Elati St. & W. Ellsworth Ave. in South Denver's Baker neighborhood was originally a part of William M. Dailey's land holdings. He was also responsible for platting the Lake Archer subdivision bordered by Cherokee Street (East),West Bayaud Avenue (South), Santa Fe Drive/Jason Street (East) and West 1st Avenue (North). In the 1880s, the two brothers went into partnership with a real estate loan and investment company, establishing Dailey & Company.

John Lewis Dailey married Melisa Brown "Lessie" Rounds in Chicago, Illinois on March 1, 1866. She was born(?) in Richford, Franklin County, Vermont ca.1846, the daughter of Elihu Roe Rounds (1811-1900) and Rebecca Bigford (d.1847). The Rounds family traveled westward and eventually settled in Eureka, Winnebago, Wisconsin. Melissa Dailey died after giving birth to the couple's first child, Nell "Nelly" Dailey (December 22, 1866-December 29, 1866) in Denver, Colorado on December 22, 1866. John L. Dailey’s second wife was Mrs. Helen "Nelly" A. (Manley) Woodbury. Helen Woodbury had been a teacher to Melisa Dailey and became a close personal friend. She later cared for Melisa Dailey during her pregnancy. Helen A. Manley was born in New York on May 3, 1838 the daughter of the Universalist Reverend W. E. Manley of Auburn, New York. She was the widow of James B. Woodbury (b.1833, New York) of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She later served as the Director of the Denver Orphans' Home. John and Helen Dailey had four children: Lissie Woodbury Dailey Peabody (June 16, 1870 - 1948); Anne Dailey (April 5, 1872 - June 6, 1935); Grace Dailey (May 24, 1874 - June 16, 1961); John Lewis Dailey (Aug 24, 1879 - Nov 5, 1958). John Dailey died in Denver, Colorado on January 3, 1908. Helen Dailey died on May 11, 1908.

William M. Dailey was born in Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio on April 22, 1836 and came to Colorado in 1859. He was first involved with livestock, later with mining, and finally with real estate development. He married Nellie M. Tilton (b. October 1857; Hudson, Michigan) the daughter of Albert and Hattie (Manley) Tilton in Denver, on March 10, 1880. Her mother was the sister of Helen A. Dailey. William M. Dailey died on March 29, 1890 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.


2 boxes (1 linear foot)

1 oversize boxes

1 oversize folio

1 photo boxes

1 photo envelope

3 microfilm reels (35mm) (Mflm27)

Language of Materials



The collection of materials: diaries, family papers were purchased from Grace Dailey, the daughter of John Lewis Dailey, in 1938. An additional printer sample book was purchased from Fred Rosenstock in 1975.


The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional collections with material related to John L. Lewis Dailey, including:

Grace and John L. Dailey oral history: OH61

William N. Byers and family papers: WH55


25 photographs and pieces of ephemera have been separated from the collection and digitized. Available at Digital Collections Website.

Print titles, such as early volumes of the daily and weekly Rocky Mountain News, and other loose editions of early Colorado newspaper titles, as well as books and pamphlets have been transferred to Western History collections.

Printer samples and sample books from Central City, Colorado have been transferred to the Collier & Hall printing samples collection: WH2200


Number of Boxes: 2

Oversize: 1 Box, 1 Folio

Microfilm: 3 Reels

Photographs: 1 Box, 1 Envelope




Martin Leuthauser

July 2011


Ellen Zazzarino

September 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States