Trick Is No Treat When Newspaper Falsely Claims Family Drowned

A mother, daughter, and local druggist met their deaths at Castlewood dam in November 1894. Eighteen-year-old Pearl Boyd reportedly clung to Alfred Stott as she cried out for someone to save her. Tragically, the raging water proved too much for Pearl and her mother, daughter and wife of the Castlewood Dam manager, as they, along with Mr. Stott, drowned.

The Denver Republican reported this devastating news on the morning of November 15, 1894, under the headline: “Three Lives Lost, Mother, Daughter and Guest Are Drowned.” Happily, the Denver Post exposed the article as a complete fabrication invented by the “deceased” Boyds’ 23-year-old son and brother. “Fooled the Republican: Three Denver People Surprised to Learn That They Were Drowned,” reported the Denver Post later that same day.

The source of the tall tale was Charles Boyd, who apparently had no problem spinning a yarn about his family’s death. His reputation was not stellar. Charles’s boss at the City Package Delivery Company Denver described him as irresponsible and no good.

Alfred Stott (first row, second from left) with the Castle Rock Cornet Band. Image 2020.016.

Why Charles included Mr. Stott in the ruse is a mystery. Mr. Stott, shown in the photo, wore many hats during his time in Castle Rock. He clerked in a hardware store, operated a meat business, worked as a druggist, and served as both postmaster and sheriff.

Even though the drowning was falsified, the draw of Castlewood dam was real. The Castlewood reservoir and dam was a popular Douglas County recreation spot prior to the dam’s collapse in 1933. In her oral history, Cora Deane Younger remembers picnics and boat rides there. It was completely plausible Mr. Stott, Pearl Boyd, and her mother, Mrs. G. Eliza Boyd, would want to take a sailboat out on the water.

For more information about Castlewood dam, including a copy of the Denver Post article exposing the false claim, contact Douglas County Libraries Archives & Local History.

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