Thursday, June 20, 2013

Number 177 "Flint Chips: Tales of the Flint Creek Valley" by Dan Meschter

Several readers have asked me: "Are you going to tell about Miss Kate? How old really was she?" Yes, of course I am going to tell the story of Kate Smith and her age - a secret that kept Philipsburg gossips busy for years.

To make a long story out of it, the tale of Kate Smith is rooted in the exciting events surrounding the San Francisco mine just above Tower.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Edwardsville's namesake John Edwards

In 1866, John Edwards was with the Brown brothers, Ben Franklin, Dan Chisholm and others when they located the Comanche mining claim in the Flint Creek District. The rest of John's life story plays out on the north shore of the Hells Gate River across from the mouth of Flint Creek at the mouth of Packer's Gulch, a site first named Edwardsville and now called Drummond.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Flint Creek Mining District in 1866.

Many of the important lode claims of the Philipsburg area were staked in 1866. First to arrive was a prospecting party, apparently sent or financed by James Stuart, in June. They named the single claim they staked in the far northern part of the district (June 20) the "Jim Stuart lode". From the description it seems this claim was located on the copper showings in what became known as "Stewart Gulch". This part of the district is practically devoid of silver and perhaps this party was clueless or lost.

Up to this point, it seems likely that prospecting had been guided by reports from mountain men such as William Graham and James Stuart, who had visited the area in the 1850's. Now the element of pure good luck enters the picture. According to Rossiter Raymond, a party of prospectors on their way from Idaho to the Blackfoot gold diggings (actually in the Little Blackfoot drainage near Elliston) staked many of the best silver showings beginning with the Comanche lode (July 4). As best we can reconstruct the record, this group consisted of Dan Brown, Dan's brother Sandy (Emanuel), Charles Frost, Ben Franklin, John Edwards, Dan Chisholm, Wm. Mathias, C.A. Bell, and perhaps several others. Rossiter Raymond, who at times relies verbatim on reports by Charles Frost, a skilled promoter and self-promoter, reports that this party of prospectors was under the leadership of none other than Frost himself! But in fact Dan Brown was regarded to be the leading prospector of early Philipsburg, since an assembly of miners gathered to organize the district elected him President. He was buried in Philipsburg and the GCHS has placed a marker on his grave.

It is likely that the Brown-Frost party came into the Bitterroot Valley from Idaho, and heard of the shortcut through the mountains taken years before by John Owen, William Graham, and Fred Burr. As they checked out prospects near their route, they likely spotted Hector Horton's stakes at the Cordova lode. The seasoned prospectors in this group would have immediately recognized the potential signaled by the showings at the Cordova and started to search the hills for silver outcrops. Their arrival in the district was serendipitous, with several of the party making good money staking and selling claims, including some that would become major producing mines, like the Speckled Trout and Algonquin. Based on their discoveries, several of this party should be considered to be first-rate prospectors, in Horton's league.