Historian, Author, Speaker

When studying for her Ph.D, Ellen Kingman Fisher discovered a collection of letters written by Nathaniel Hill in the 1860s. Intrigued, she used the letters to write Hill's Gold, a historical novel about the early years of Nathaniel and Alice Hill.  


December 8, 2017

Can the Course of a Territory Be Altered by One Man’s Passion?

Colorado Territory, 1863: The Colorado gold rush was over. Mining was a shambles. The Civil War still raged and Indian uprisings on the Great Plains made travel dangerous. Nevertheless, Nathaniel P. Hill was captivated by the rough frontier and tempted by William Gilpin’s invitation to investigate his land for gold and silver. Against his wife's wishes, Hill left his family and job as a chemistry professor at Brown University to work for the Colorado Territory's former governor. The result was nothing short of a revolutionary boost to the fledgling Colorado mining industry and the rerouting of his and his family’s fortunes.


Ellen Kingman Fisher, Ph.D has been a senior program officer with the Gates Family Foundation and the Director of the Molly Brown House Museum in Denver. She has also been a board member of the Colorado State Historical Society (now History Colorado) for 28 years. She was awarded the Molly Brown Spirit Award by Historic Denver for community service and the Alumni Recognition Award by the University of Colorado at Denver for her role in developing the public history (applied history) program at CU Denver.

The author has spent most of her life in Colorado enjoying the outdoors, which includes climbing all of Colorado’s fourteeners. She also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro when she was 64. Dr. Fisher and her husband live in Colorado and Arizona. 

“Hill’s Gold weaves the story of Nathaniel P. Hill’s quest to make mining viable in the Colorado Territory during the early 1860s through a thoroughly engaging fictional account of Hill’s challenges and adventures and their impact on his family. This is the Colorado West as many have never considered it during a  moment in history that shaped the course of what would become the State of Colorado.”

—Thomas J. Noel, PhD (Dr. Colorado), Professor of History & Director of Public History and Preservation, University of Colorado Denver &author of fifty history books.


Subscribe Today!

Introducing Clio Muse News —a brief newsletter that will allow me to expand on subplots and colorful characters I came across in my research but could not fit into the novel. The newsletter will also let me go beyond the book’s timeframe to describe some of what the Hills did after 1868. Clio Muse News will be published twice a month as vignettes of people and events.


I hope you will be interested in reading periodic snippets of history and will also be interested in reading Hill’s Gold. Click the button below to sign up!


Christmas Cards in the 1860s

December 31, 2017

From Cursive to Computers

January 15, 2018

Railroads in the 1860s

February 1, 2018

Four Mile House

March 1, 2018

The Civil War in the Southwest

March 26, 2018

Stagecoaches in the 1860s

June 25, 2018

More about William Gilpin

May 4, 2018

Penitentes in Southern Colorado

May 31, 2018


June 26, 2018

Fort Garland

August 13, 2018

Central City and Black Hawk Today

October 3, 2018

Louise Sneed Hill,

Nathaniel and Alice Hill's Daughter-in-Law

December 28, 2018

Nineteenth Century Technology and Transportation

January 22, 2019


                                                                                CLIO MUSE PRESS        





Title: What does Hill’s Gold mean—Was Nathaniel’s “gold” similar to Jason’s golden fleece?

          What were other characters’ gold/fleece?


How were the following character similar or dissimilar:

          William Gilpin/Nathaniel

          Joe Watson/Nathaniel

          Tom Potter/Nathaniel



          Claire/Emily—not so different—didn’t include “soiled doves,” (prostitutes) but they were an important part of the West.


How was Posthoff’s trading post different from Ft. Garland (a confluence of cultures versus protection)


Do you think most people have a passion in life that guides them or drives them?


Did the book raise questions about moral ambiguity?

          Gilpin /Hispanos



          Civil War


Was life harder in the 1860s than it is now?


Why do you think Nathaniel Hill was successful?  What character traits and skills enabled him to succeed, when men with similar solutions, like James Lyons, did not?


What was life like for women of the l860s in the West…in the mining towns, way stations, cities like young Denver?

How to you find a solution to the clash of different civilizations?


One of the greatest perks of my job is getting feedback and interacting with readers. Contact me if you’ve got any comments or questions for me, I’d love to hear from you.



©2017 by Ellen Kingman Fisher. Proudly created with Wix.com