District Attorney Profile

Sylvester S. Downer

Sylvester S. Downer (DA 1886-1889)

SYLVESTER S. DOWNER (1853 - 1922)

First Judicial District, 1886 - 1887; Eighth Judicial District 1887 - 1889

Ohio native Sylvester S. Downer came to Colorado, in failing health, in the spring of 1873. He must have recovered quickly as in September of that year, he guided English author Isabella Bird from Longmont to the summit of Longs Peak.

Downer then moved to New York where he graduated, in 1876, from Columbia Law School. Afterwards, he returned to Colorado, settled in Boulder, and practiced law with Platt Rogers. From 1881 through 1885, he served as Boulder County Judge. In 1886, he began his term as District Attorney in the First Judicial District.

In 1887, the Colorado State Legislature created the Eighth Judicial District, then comprised of Boulder, Larimer, Weld, and two brand new counties - Logan and Washington - and Downer ran for re-election. The court of the Eighth Judicial District moved from county to county, but in Boulder it commenced on the first Monday in February and on the first Monday in September.

In 1904, Downer was a delegate from Colorado to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, resulting in the second term of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

Downer became known throughout the West as a prominent mining attorney. In his later years,  he practiced law in Nevada and California. He and his family are buried in Boulder’s Columbia Cemetery.

Photo: Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, Boulder, CO