(Eighth in an occasional series about founders of the storied Silver King Mine).
My life was tough and short, but I worked hard and married a very smart woman.
My family were Irish immigrants, fleeing to upstate New York to escape the potato famine. My father settled us on a farm where I learned about mining by working in the nearby iron mines starting at age 14. When I was 18, the Civil War broke out so I joined up with the Empire Light Cavalry. We fought our way down to Louisiana where I was wounded and captured. I tried to escape once, but they caught me and held me until the war was over.
After the war I went back to the family farm in New York and fell in love with Mary Harney. We married in 1867, but things looked more promising out West. So I left my little family in New York while I worked for a short time at the Utah State Penitentiary. I went up to Idaho, but things looked better in Utah. I ended up in Park City where I worked at the Ontario Mine, and then became Superintendent at the Daly Mine up in Empire Canyon working for John Daly. My family lived in Salt Lake City and I would go see them on Sundays.
I made some good money and some good friends in Park City, and invested in multiple mining claims and businesses. In 1899 Abraham Hanauer and Nicholas Treweek put together a group to dig the Alliance Tunnel 800 feet underneath the old Hanauer Tunnel that drained the Sampson Mine. They hired me as contractor to dig that tunnel. It was a lucrative contract, and by August of 1890 we extended the Alliance tunnel over 4500 feet from its portal to its end. That was underneath the Woodside Gulch claims that were proving to be more valuable than anyone ever dreamed.
When Tom Kearns and David Keith realized where the valuable ore was running outside their lease at the Mayflower Mine in Woodside Gulch, they asked me to invest with them in the claims around that mine. I knew that ground, I was in it every day with my miners, and I was as knowledgeable as anyone about underground mining. So I invested, and was on the board of directors when they formed the Silver King Mining Company in 1892. But by then I was sick with miner’s consumption–silicosis–from my years of working underground in the mines.
My wife and children were spending a lot of money in Salt Lake City, and I was very ill. So we decided we should sell half our stake to James Ivers. He found the money and the rest is history.
I died in 1892 at age 47, not long after the Silver King began to make real money. But fortunately for all, my wife Mary was a really smart cookie and she invested well.
Next in the series — Mary Judge’s story.