On January 8, 1908, 57-year-old mining promoter Nicholas Treweek filed a lawsuit in United States Circuit Court against the Silver King Coalition Mines Company led by its President David Keith and General Manager Thomas Kearns. The suit alleged that the Silver King had taken more than 10,000 tons of ore worth $400,000 from ground owned by Treweek and his son-in-law J. Leonard Burch. The property in question comprised the Arthur and Conkling claims, about 24 acres, virtually surrounded by Silver King Coalition holdings
Mr. Treweek did not see the ore taken — that was one of the grounds of his complaint — nor was he certain that the ore was gone — he hadn’t looked, but he had it on good authority that the Silver King could have taken the ore. It was understood that he was proceeding upon absolute knowledge that most of the rich ore taken out by the Silver King for some months past had come from Conkling-Arthur ground. Considerable ore had been coming out of the company’s Alliance tunnel, but the King would not let Treweek go in and see where it came from.
Treweek was vice president and general manager of the Alliance Mining company, the old Sampson, before it was sold to the Silver King Coalition Company in 1900. His other Park City interests included the Wabash.
“The complaint speaks for itself,” Nicholas Treweek said, “I have done everything in my power to avoid bringing this suit, but the King management has strenuously refused to permit me to make an examination of the underground workings or allow me to take any survey. In order to protect myself there was no other way than to take the matter into court.”
Born in Devonshire, England, November 20, 1850, Treweek was one of the oldest mining hands in Utah. He came to the United States prior to his twentieth birthday and settled in Pennsylvania, where he remained for only a few months coming to Utah in 1870. Taking a prominent part in public affairs and becoming a leading figure among local mining men, he was given the honorary title of Colonel.
A contemporary of such Park City mining magnates as R. C. Chambers, John J. Daly, and E. P. Ferry, Colonel Treweek was called by the New York Times “one of the best informed mining operators in the country.” Through his efforts much money was brought to Park City for the development of the mines. “Always a staunch friend of Park City,” the Park Record wrote, “he spent many thousands of dollars in developing Park City properties. Esteemed by Park City citizens, he is a genial, whole-souled man, a conscientious fighter, and a clean, earnest mining man.”
No stranger to litigation, Colonel Treweek’s filing fostered one of the longest running lawsuits the Supreme Court of the United States has been called upon to settle. A decision that would not be made in his life-time and one of the most important to the mining industry as a whole.
This story will be continued.
Learn more about Park City’s mining history at the Park City Museum and our Hal Compton Research Library.