Christmas in Our Sitting Room

This week and next we are posting photos of our Victorian Holiday decorations.  We have the house looking pretty snazzy (I believe that’s a Victorian decorating term). 

Today we are featuring the sitting room.  The tree has the featured location in our bay window and gift wrapped packages are everywhere.  Our antique concert grand piano has a flock of angels roosting on it, as does the cast brass fireplace. 

Peacock feathers decorate the swags over the doorways and the antique china cupboard housing the jewelry sales display. 

Erasmus Nagle


     Erasmus Nagle was born in St. Clairsville, Ohio on October 30, 1833, the son of George & Elizabeth (Ewing) Nagle, both Ohio natives.  After reaching his majority he left for Chicago where he graduated from Bryant & Strattons commercial college.  After learning the saddler’s trade in Monmouth, Illinois, he became a traveling salesman for harnesses and saddlery.  Moving west, during the Colorado gold rush, he engaged in the lumber business in Central City until 1868.  He moved to Cheyenne with the coming of the Union Pacific Railroad, assuming partnership in Post & Nagle, a grocery business.  Soon he was on his own and had established one of the most extensive wholesale grocers in what was then the Dakota Territory.  He also invested heavily in a number of cattle companies as well as some up and coming opportunities such as the telegraph company, the Cheyenne Deadwood Stage and toll roads and liquor concessions in the Black Hills. 

     He married Emma Jane Houseman, daughter of Henry and Helen Houseman, who were early Wyoming settlers and prominent in Cheyenne society.  They had one son, George H., born September 1, 1876.  George attended public schools in Cheyenne until the age of fourteen, at which time he went to preparatory school in Rock Island, Illinois, followed by attendance at an Episcopal college.  George then went on a grand European tour with a tutor before returning for more schooling in California and in Denver.

     In 1884 the three largest grocery businesses in Cheyenne were consolidated to form the Union Mercantile, which later absorbed the large grocery of George A. Draper.  Mr. Nagle served as president of Union Mercantile and held many positions of trust and authority in the community, though he managed to avoid serving in political office.

     In 1886, he was chairman of the capitol building commission and it was at this time, when the contractor refused a large quantity of stone (designated as “too soft”), that Erasmus decided to use the stone to construct his own residence.  Utilizing the “soft” stone, the same architect, contractor, and artisans who were working on the capitol, he built the mansion.  When fully completed and furnished its cost was estimated at $50,000. The house was finished in 1888 and sported gas, electricity, and six full bathrooms in addition to its many elegant refinements.

     Erasmus only enjoyed the home for a short period of time.  He died of peritonitis on January 24, 1890.  His fortune was left to his wife and son.  Son George became president of Union Mercantile when he reached the age of 21.  He married Mable C. Yates in Ogden, Utah, but they later divorced.  Apparently the business holdings suffered.   George ended his life serving as a night watchman at the local oil refinery and living in a hotel room in downtown Cheyenne.

     Mrs. Nagle, widow of Erasmus, later married a man of questionable character from “back East”. After convincing her to sign over the mortgage to her home and many of her investments, they divorced.  Her funds diminished, she moved into a smaller home several blocks away.