During the Gold Rush, Rebecca Judkins and her sons William and Charles built a home near the northeast corner of 11th and Jackson Streets, just a block east of here. Bill Judkins was outside the day of June 6, 1869 when he saw something happen at the site of today's Parfet Park. The event started in the race waterway going to the Golden Mill at the Ford Street Bridge. The story of what he did made the Colorado Transcript on June 9, 1869:
"A very narrow and wonderful escape from drowning occurred here on Sunday last, to a little son of Mr. D.E. Harrison, only three years old. He was playing beside Barnes' race, near the upper bridge, when he fell in and was carried down with the swift current to the waste way, through which he was hurled by the force of the current, and down the steep incline, some fifteen feet, to the seething poor below. Here he was whirled around for some moments, by the force of the falling water, and then shot out into the raging current of the river. Providentially, the little fellow was observed when he first fell into the race by Mr. Wm. Judkins, who was on the opposite side of the river. He at once started with all possible speed to reach him by way of the lower bridge. Just as he reached it he saw the little sufferer tumbling over the cataract above, and boldly leaped over into the rushing stream just in time to seize an arm of the child was he was rushing past him, beneath the bridge. Although he had been swept down the swift current of the race some 200 yards, and over the steep waste way into the river below, which was boiling and seething with fearful force, and carried some twenty yards further down the main stream before his rescue, it was found that he had sustained no serious injury beyond the amount of water he had swallowed, and was playing around his home as usual an hour afterwards. Mr. Judkins deserves and received the highest praise for the promptness and coolness displayed by him in the trying emergency, which was only equaled by his bravery in unhesitatingly plunging into the forceful current to save the little one. Those who know Clear Creek at high water can appreciate the courage required. An instant's hesitation and delay would have been sufficient to have carried the little fellow through the bridge, and beyond all human aid.
Background photo: 1871 photo of mill race, Golden Mill, river and Judkins home. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.