Edward Wansaer Wynkoop was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1836. In 1856 he moved to Kansas where he was employed in the Pawnee Land Office in Lecompton until 1858. He then joined a group of entrepreneurs and journeyed to the Rocky Mountains and was one of the founders of Denver, Colorado. From 1859 to 1861 he was a prominent citizen of Denver and Jefferson Territory. After Congress created the Territory of Colorado, and with the advent of the Civil War, Wynkoop became a lieutenant in the First Colorado Regiment of Infantry Volunteers. He was promoted to the position of senior captain of the regiment and after distinguishing himself at the Battles of Apache Canyon and Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, was promoted to major.
After duty in New Mexico Wynkoop's command moved to Fort Garland, Fort Lyon and then to Camp Weld, Colorado. While in command of Camp Weld in May 1864, he was assigned to command of Fort Lyon. There he came into contact with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. At this time Wynkoop became sincerely convinced of the integrity and virtuousness of the Indian character and did all in his power to effect a peace between the United States and the Indians. In September, 1864, he took principal chiefs of both tribes to Denver to confer with military and Indian department officials. After giving the chiefs of both tribes assurances of safety he was relieved of the command of Fort Lyon, on November 2, 1864, and departed. Colonel John M. Chivington attacked the Cheyennes and Arapahoes near Fort Lyon soon afterwards. Wynkoop condemned the action, was reassigned the command of Fort Lyon, and ordered to conduct an investigation of the affair. His report was extremely biased against Chivington but served to focus attention on the gravity of the affair.
After The Sand Creek investigations Wynkoop was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel. He resigned his commission in 1866 after serving as a special Indian agent and was appointed agent for the Upper Arkansas Agency by President Andrew Johnson. Throughout his tenure as an Indian agent he was a consistent champion and defender of the Indians. After the Battle of the Washita, November 27, 1868, Wynkoop charged the army with perpetrating a massacre similar to Sand Creek, and resigned his commission as Indian agent under protest.
Following his resignation Wynkoop returned to Pennsylvania and engaged in a number of occupations. In 1876 he was a miner in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He was later appointed to positions in the Federal Government and the Territorial Government of New Mexico. Edward Wynkoop died September 11, 1891, at the age of fifty-five. He left five children and was a respected citizen of New Mexico.
Level of Degree
First Committee Member (Chair)
Richard Nathaniel Ellis
Second Committee Member
Donald Colgett Cutter
Third Committee Member
Ferenc Morton Szasz
Bennett, William Charles Jr.. "Edward W. Wynkoop, Frontiersman." (1976). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hist_etds/305