(Tenth in an occasional series about founders of the storied Silver King Mine.)
I’m a lucky sort of guy. As a kid growing up in Ontario, I learned blacksmithing, which is always in demand. I later moved to Vermont and established myself as a blacksmith. Another move to Concord, New Hampshire introduced me to my lovely wife Bridget Welsh, whom I married in 1875.
Though we were doing well, we got a yearn to travel to the gold fields out West, but when Bridget and I heard about Park City in 1882, we moved here. The Daly Mine hired me as a blacksmith, and pretty soon I was able to buy some horses and wagons to haul ore. I had a livery stable where I met influential people who elected me to the Park City Council and Utah State Legislature.
We were living up in the canyon where all the trees had been cut for mine timbers and fuel, resulting in a series of deadly avalanches. Poor Bridget was scared of the avalanches so I built her a house right next to St. Mary’s Catholic Church so she’d feel safe.
A stroke of luck was my friendship with John Judge. He was part of the group who invested with Tom Kearns and David Keith in the Mayflower Mine. By 1890, when they discovered that the ore was leading into the Silver King claims, they bought those. John Judge was one of their partners, but he was getting pretty weak from miner’s consumption. He offered me half of his shares in the deal, but I didn’t have that kind of money. I went home and told Bridget we could be really rich if only I had the money to buy into those Silver King claims.
I’d had a hard day of work, so after supper I took a little nap. When I woke up, there was Bridget waiting with a coffee can full of money. I asked her where she got all that money and she said “Jim, every night when you hang up your pants on the hook, I empty the change out of your pockets and bury the money out back in the garden.” That smart woman handed over the money and we bought half of Judge’s claims in the Silver King.
Those Silver King boys nearly drove me out of the ore hauling business in 1901 when they built an aerial tramway to take the ore down to the railroad in town. I had just invested big money in new horses and wagons to haul their ore and before I knew it, the ore was coming down right over my head on those fancy cables.
But my investment in the Silver King Mine paid off handsomely! By the time I was elected to the Legislature, we were able to build a house at 564 East First South Street and we moved down to Salt Lake City. Later my son became manager of the Silver King Mine.