Back to former Colorado governors
Frederick Walker Pitkin

Gov. Frederick Walker Pitkin

  • January 14, 1879 - January 9, 1883
  • Republican
  • August 31, 1837
  • December 18, 1886
  • Connecticut
  • Wesleyan Univeristy, Albany Law School
  • Married Fidelia M. James; four children


FREDERICK WALKER PITKIN, Colorado’s second governor was born in Manchester, Connecticut, on August 31, 1837. He graduated with honors from Wesleyan University in 1858, and earned a law degree from the Albany Law School in 1859. He moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1860, and became a partner in the successful law firm of Palmer, Hooker, and Pitkin. In 1872, Pitkin fell ill and left his law practice, traveling to Europe in search of a cure for his illness. After two years in Europe, he relocated to the southwestern region of Colorado, where he regained his health, invested in mining, and opened a law practice.  Pitkin entered politics when he was elected Governor of Colorado in 1879. He was reelected to a second term in 1881. During his tenure, he contended with the railway feud between the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and the Denver & Rio Grande Companies. He also dealt with the turbulent uprising of the Ute Indians at the Battle of Milk Creek; and the 1880 Leadville Strike, which he handled by declaring martial law. Pitkin ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1882, and finished out his term as governor.  Retiring from public service, Pitkin returned to his law practice and his mining ventures in Pueblo. Governor Frederick Pitkin died on December 18, 1886, and is buried at the Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Colorado.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Colorado State Archives

The Political Graveyard

Recent Colorado Governors