Lore of the Week - Founding of Lazarus and Lazarus Gap
July 19, 2017
Whiskey Creek was just a trade post and some tents when the US Cavalry arrived in 1876 to clear out all the treaty violators. In truth, it was sanctioned theft as they confiscated any and all gold the prospectors had dug up. It was during this occupation that the 'miracle' first occurred. A Cholera outbreak that summer swept through the prospectors and cavalrymen alike. Suffering and dying the afflicted resigned themselves to their fate. Two riders that were sent to secure the services of a doctor from Rapid City had failed to return after three weeks. One by one the men and women of Whiskey Creek succumbed to the flux. One of the victims was a Joshua Clay, a corporal in the US Cavalry. Rumors and stories were passed on by the survivors attribute that Clay, on the verge of death, suddenly recovered fully, miraculously. The young corporal told a story of a vision, a visitation with an “Angel”, from which he awoke cured. Others in the camp, often those suffering most in the grips of the flux, claimed similar visions, many also claimed a miraculous restoration from edge of death.
The rumors of this “miracle” spread widely. Mono-dominant religious groups reacted differently, some decried the “visions” as delusions brought on by fever, others were eager to believe. It was in the first months of 1877 that the first “pilgrims” arrived at Whiskey Creek, now commonly known by a different moniker: Lazarus. The encampment grew quickly, a second large gold strike in the nearby hills brought another influx of prospectors, transients and entrepreneurs. The center of the encampment shifted away from the old Lazarus trade post (formerly Whiskey Creek Trade Post) to a centralized encampment along the trail-road, called Lazarus Gap.
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