Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mining Law in 1865

In the earliest days of mining in Montana, from 1862 to 1864, each district had its own rules for the staking of mining claims. Generally these rules were focused on placer claims, and allowed claimants 200 feet long along a gulch, extending completely across the channel. In late 1864, the territorial legislature passed a new law governing mining claims, mostly copied from statutes then in force in California. This law - quoted below - governed the staking of the Cordova and other lodes in the Philipsburg area. The rules created a "lawyer's paradise", generating numerous tangled lawsuits relating to such issues as whether the Hope claim was on a vein that was a "spur" of the Comanche

In 1867, J Ross Browne reported to Congress on the Mines and Minerals West of the Rocky Mountains. By this time, a new Federal statute governed mining claims, which was hardly an improvement over the territorial law. Browne gave a colorful description of the interaction of geology and law in the Comstock district in a Harper's magazine article titled "Washoe Revisited". The Congressional Report the following year contained extensive critiques of the 1866 Federal mining law by W.S.Keyes and Rossiter Raymond. Keyes reported on the operation of the law in Montana, which he regarded as dysfunctional. Raymond's report is a treatise on the history of mining from ancient times to the present and the laws governing mining through time and in various jurisdictions. He is critical of the current mining law but not so scathing as Keyes.

My thanks to John Koerth for pointing out the problems generated by the use of the phrase "dips, spurs and angles" in early mining law. The federal Mining Law of 1872 improved matters somewhat by making claims wider and getting rid of the terms "spurs" and "angles". Most litigation after the 1872 act had to do with miners following a vein on the "dip". If a vein outcropped or apexed on a claim, the claimant could follow the vein down the dip outside the boundaries of the claim. Because of the way veins may complexly branch (much like a braid), it was often difficult if not impossible to determine which branch of the "braid" controlled an ore body. Faulting added additional complications, both geological and legal.

AN ACT relating to the discovery of gold and silver quartz leads, lodes, or ledges, and of the manner of their location. (Approved December 20, 1864.) 

Be it enacted by the legislative assembly of the Territory of Montana, That any person who may hereafter discover any quartz lead, lode, or ledge, shall be entitled to one claim thereon by right of discovery, and one claim each by pre-emption. 

SEC. 2. That in. order to entitle any person or persons to record in the county recorder s office of the proper county, any lead, lode, or ledge, either of gold or silver, or claim thereon, there shall first be discovered on said lead, lode, or ledge a vein or crevice of quartz or ore, with at least one well-defined wall. 

SEC. 3. Claims on any lead, lode, or ledge, either of gold or silver, hereafter discovered, shall consist of not more than 200 feet along the lead, lode, or ledge, together with all dips, spurs, and angles emanating or diverging from said lead, lode, or ledge, as also 50 feet on each side of said lead, lode, or ledge, for working purposes : Provided, That when two or more leads, lodes, or ledges shall be discovered within 100 feet of each other, either running parallel or crossing each other, the ground between such leads, lodes, or ledges shall belong equally to the claimants of said leads, lodes, or ledges, without regard to priority of discovery or pre-emption. 

SEC. 4. When any leads, lodes, or ledges shall cross each other, the quartz, ore, or mineral in the crevice or vein at the place of crossing shall belong to and be the property of the claimants upon the lead, lode, or ledge first discovered. 

SEC. 5. That before any record shall be made, under the provisions of this act, there shall be placed at each extremity of the discovered claim a good and substantial stake, not less than five inches in diameter, said stake to be firmly planted or sunken in the ground, extending two feet above the ground ; that upon each stake there shall be placed, in legible characters, the name of the lead, lode, or ledge, and that of the discoverer or discoverers, the date of discovery, and the name of each pre-emptor or claimant, and the direction or bearing, - as near as may be, of his or her claim ; said stake and the inscription thereon to be replaced at least once in twelve months by the claimants on said leads, lodes, or ledges, if torn down or otherwise destroyed. 

SEC. 6. Notice of the discovery or pre-emption upon any lead, lode, or ledge shall be filed for record in the county recorder s office, of the county in which the same may be situated, within fifteen days of the date of the discovery or pre-emption ; and there shall at the same time be an oath taken before the recorder that the claimant or claimants are each and all of them bona fide residents of the Territory of Montana ; and there shall be deposited in the recorder s office, either by the discoverer or some pre-emptor, a specimen of the quartz, ore, or mineral extracted or taken from said" lead, lode, or ledge, which said specimen shall be properly labelled by the recorder and preserved in his office. 

SEC. 7. That any person or persons who shall take up or destroy, or cause the same to be done, any of the said stakes, or who shall in anywise purposely deface or obliterate any part or portion of the writing or inscription placed thereon, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof- before any court of competent jurisdiction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than 1,000 or imprisonment in the county jail not more than 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. 

SEC. 8. "That the amount of ground which may be taken up upon any lead, lode, or ledge, in addition to the discovery claim, shall be limited to 1,000 feet along said lead, lode, or ledge in each direction from the discovery claim thereon. 

SEC. 9. All lead, lode, or ledge claims, taken up and recorded in pursuance with the provisions of this act, shall entitle the person recording to hold the same to the use of himself, his heirs and assigns ; and conveyances of quartz claims shall hereafter require the same formalities and shall be subject to the same rules of construction as the transfer and conveyance of real estate. 

SEC. 10. That if at any time previous to the passage of this net, claims have been taken up and recorded in the recorder s office of the proper county, upon any actual or proper lead, lode, or ledge of quartz, ore. or mineral, the owners or proper claimants o f said respective claim shall hold the same to the use of themselves, their heirs and assigns. 

SEC. 11. That the act relating to the discovery of gold and silver quartz lodes and the manner of their location, passed by the Idaho legislature and approved February 4, 1864, and all other acts, or parts of acts, inconsistent with this act, be, and the same are hereby, repealed. 

SEC. 12. This act shall take effect from and after this date. 

Again, by an act approved January 17, 1865, it was enacted that quartz mining claims 
and water rights " shall become part and parcel of the county records, and shall be evidence 
in any court or courts of competent jurisdiction ;" thus placing the titles to quartz claims on 
the same footing and making their transfer subject to the same formalities as those to real 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ledgers of Fred Burr and other Cattle traders

Thanks to Blog follower, Sheri Wysong we have been privileged to view many Utah Archives concerning Fred Burr and other early Pioneers. Sheri copied pages from the Camp Floyd account books showing Burr and other Montana pioneer account ledgers. Thanks muchly to Sheri.

Camp Floyd was established on November 9,  1858 as a military base and commanded by Albert S. Johnston. The fort was the first established in Utah Territory. The location was south of present day Salt Lake City off of the current I-15 freeway. The fort provided protection for the Emigrant Trails and Pony Express during their times of service. They also provided much needed supplies and financial accounting for the wagon trains and men trading with the migrating population. Multiple people such as Fred Burr and Tom Adams bought worn out oxen and cattle from the travelers, took them to the Deer Lodge and Flint Creek Valley for the winter and returned to trade the revived bovine to the new trains traveling through the next spring.

As evidenced by the account ledger there were very large accounts for Fred Burr's half-brother young David Burr and his business partners, Hockaday and Mogo. Mogo and Burr had accounts carrying balances for as much as $3,356.62, that was paid off in August 1860. Burr and Hockaday carried a balance as high as $4, 667.78 that was paid off in November 1859.

Fred Burr and John Powell had an account  in October 1858 (before the Camp was designated as a Fort). John Powell was an early resident of the Deer Lodge area and is the namesake of Mount Powell and Powell County. Their ledger lists items such as 2 dozen oysters, calico cloth, pepper, rice and gloves plus cash and vouchers in the amount of  $263.92   In April of 1859 the full amount then totaling $400 was paid off. At that date another $175.50 worth of supplies was also bought and paid for in cash. Obviously the men had traded fattened cattle for cash from the wagon train travelers.
There is one ledger page for just Fred Burr with a balance of $95.75 on November of 1859. All though no other ledger page was copied, I doubt that Burr left any balance unpaid. A page with just Powell listed has an account of $284.64  charged from November 1859 through March of 1860 and was paid off in full on March 20, 1860. A ledger page for Thomas Adams consisting of items such as 5 spools of thread (.50), 12 yards of calico ($3.60), 1 plug of tobacco (.75), $50.00 cash,  totaling $338.30 charged during January, February and June of  1859. This account was paid in full by Adams and Hereford on another ledger with both names and an account totaling $2,957.03 by July of 1860. 
 Hugh O'Neil had an account ledger with items consisting of a hair brush $2.50, 100 pounds of flour $13.00, 1 dozen tin bowls $4.50 charged during June through October 1858 and February 1859. Family history and the Virginia City accounts always referred to Hugh as Major. This ledger establishes that he found Johnston whom he was looking for when O'Neil originally arrived in the Hell Gate area in November 1857 and was a teamster for the military when he met his future bride in 1858. Hugh O'Neil ran against Fred Burr for Sheriff of Deer Lodge County in 1865 and lost by 47 votes. Hugh is the Great-Great-Great Grandfather of my children and will be discussed on a later blog post. His life is covered also in "Mettle of Granite County Book One" pages 72-88.
Obviously the cattle trade along the wagon train trails was a profitable business for many pioneers and the Fort provided the traders supplies and cash advances that would otherwise not been available to the early pioneers of the land later known as Montana Territory.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Discovery of Sapphires at Rock Creek

General references tend to be silent as to who discovered sapphires along the West Fork of Rock Creek. Elsewhere in this blog we credit Emil Meyer the discovery, citing later newspaper accounts, which even refer to him as the "sapphire king." The principal gulch, now  called Sapphire Gulch, was originally called Meyer Gulch (see P. 45 of USGS report). However we are also researching the role of M. H. Bryan, co-publisher of the Philipsburg Mail. In an 1892 account in the Anaconda Standard, Bryan claimed he discovered the sapphire deposits while prospecting for gold along Rock Creek earlier that year. Perhaps so, though no locations for mining claims by either Bryan or Meyer have surfaced in either the Granite or Deer Lodge County courthouses. It seems a large quantity of placer locations in Deer Lodge County have been lost, perhaps in a courthouse fire, according to the clerks in the Office. This is a subject for further research.

Trout Mill area

Here are several Steve Neal photos (taken by his father Frank) of the Trout mills at the head of Cliff Gulch during the 1950s. We visited this area on our Silver and Sapphire trip in June. 

The building on the left is the Trout Manganese mill and the mine dump belongs to the Trout mine.

On the left is the Trout Manganese mill with the Silver Mill on the right.

Here's a closer view of the Trout Silver Mill, a flotation mill for recovering silver from the ore of the Algonquin and nearby mines. 

Scratch All Mine


One of the stops on our "Silver and Sapphire" field trip in June was the Scratch All mine. This is a Steve Neal pic of some of our group in the mine yard... in front, from left, Brian Antonioli, John Koerth, Dave Harris, Bill Olson, and Mike Miller... and behind, Joan Gabelman, John Gabelman and Larry Hoffman. Dave was one of the last miners to work in the Scratch All.

Below is a Steve Neal pic of the mine as it appeared when it was operating in the 1950s.

"Scratch All" is an apparent misspelling of the term for the tool "Scratch Awl", as it appeared on the original survey. Both names are used in historical accounts of the mine. 

The mine develops several veins, including the Cliff, Scratch All Hanging Wall, and Scratch All Foot Wall. The main shaft interconnects with the Cliff, Salmon, Blackmail, and Sharktown workings. The Cliff vein - originally discovered by Hector Horton in 1866 - is the most important. The Cliff was developed by the Hope Mining Company west of the Scratch All proper, through a series of shafts and tunnels on the Cliff No. 2 claim. 

The Scratch All itself was first developed by Murray and Durfee in the 1870s. They developed the mine by driving the Sharktown Tunnel, the portal of which is located several hundred feet below the vein outcrops. The silver ore was processed in the Northwest Company mill located not far from the portal. The Algonquin Company suspected that the ore in the Sharktown was being mined from the Salmon vein, which they owned, and sent a crew of miners, led by their formidable foreman, Harvey Showers, to seize the portal. The confrontation quickly adjourned to a courtroom, where the Algonquin Co.'s suspicions were vindicated and damages assessed. 

During the 20th century, the mine was operated by the Silver Prince Co. (especially during the 1920s) and through the 1960s by Contact Mining Co. and their lessees.