(First in an occasional series about founders of the storied Silver King Mine.)
I was born in Maine in 1846 and realized when I was 22 that I wasn’t going to get rich or famous in Maine. So I headed west to where I’s heard about exciting mining discoveries, first to Idaho and then on to Utah. I worked for a time in Big Cottonwood, Ophir and Dry Canyon and after four years became the first Gentile ever elected to be the County Clerk of Tooele County. After a few months, I got a better offer managing the Waterman Smelter affairs in Salt Lake City.
By 1880, things were looking promising in Park City, so I moved up there and became Postmaster. I was never a prospector or much of a working miner, but I knew a good business deal when I saw it and I wanted my share of the wealth. I saved a little money and invested a little, but my main focus was politics – where I was elected Speaker of the House in Utah’s Territorial Legislature and Grand Master of the Utah Masonic Order.
In 1884, when I was 38 I met and married a fascinating young woman, Susie Bransford. Susie was only 25 when she came to Park City to visit her relatives. Her family had tried to make it in California, but was in debt because of grubstaking miners through their store there. She didn’t have much money, so she worked as a seamstress and hat maker here. She worked hard and wanted to be rich and famous as much as I did.
I gave up my position as postmaster and went to work up at the Daly Mine where the money was a little better and I made some great friends in the mining community. The Superintendent of the Daly Mine was David Keith. David and his friend Tom Kearns offered Susie and me a chance to buy in on their Mayflower lease up in Woodside Gulch, which was showing great promise.
I borrowed $8,000 from R.C. Chambers. I don’t know what I would have done if the Mayflower hadn’t panned out, but it came in BIG! After a short time, I was able to repay the loan. We rolled our investment over to buy the Silver King claims and incorporated the Silver King Mine in 1892. Susie and I owned almost 25,000 shares of a really big bonanza mine.
But it didn’t last long for me. Although we were rich, my health failed when I was 48. In the spring of 1894 I wasn’t feeling well, so Susie and I went to San Francisco and then to the Sandwich Islands, you know, Hawaii. Well, I didn’t make it. I died when we got back to San Francisco of liver and heart failure. Maybe it was the liquor and the rich food, or maybe it was just my time to go, but I sure left a rich widow.
Next in this series: the “Silver Queen”.