Letters to Mary #6

U.S. Capitol under construction 1861

U.S. Capitol under construction 1861

In 1862, as he neared completion of his law courses at Harvard College, Clayton Francis Becker began to think about his future employment prospects.  In a letter to his sister, Mary, he noted his hope to find a government job in Washington, D.C. where “one gets a larger salary for a smaller amount of work.”
          Although he was concerned about generating an income, Becker’s expenses during his Harvard years seem paltry. His fees included $50.00 for instruction, library and lecture rooms; $30.00 for rent and care of room; and $6.65 for wood or other fuel delivered by W.T. Richardson – total semester cost of $86.65. Today that amount would just pay the $85.00 admissions application fee for fall 2013.

After graduating with the Harvard Law Class of 1862, Clayton Francis Becker served as a law clerk in Washington, D.C. He married and went west in 1867 to establish a St. Louis law practice. Gold fever lured him to Colorado in 1880 and he hung out his shingle in the mining town Central City. He served two terms as Gilpin County judge and one term as district judge before retiring in 1893 to his new home at 1145 Emerson Street in Denver. Judge Becker died in 1907 leaving behind his 1862 Harvard yearbook, receipts for his educational expenses, and a packet of letters his sister Mary had saved.


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