Item #8298 [Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title]. Col. William L. Candler, F. Fohr, W. P. G. Hayward, Samuel Ware, William M. Clark.
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].
[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].

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[Boston Silver Company letter archive.] Letters From Colorado [spine-title].

Saints John, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; and Boston, Mass.. 25 Sept. 1877–9 Oct. 1879. 4to (12” x 10.4”) binder, brown cloth over boards, black leather spine with gilt-title “Letters” and paper-stamp title “From Chicago.” 117 manuscript letters (4to–12mo) affixed to individual paper tabs. 310 pp. In ink. Many letters on Boston Silver Company letterheads. The letters are in reverse chronological order. CONDITION: Very good, old folds, no losses to the text.

A rich and extensive archive comprising 117 letters documenting two years of the Boston Silver Mining Company’s operation in Saints John, Colorado, including much content relating to labor and the concurrent mining boom in Leadville, Colorado. The bulk of these letters are written by a company manager, who ran the company store and managed the hired labor in Saints John, to the secretary of the Silver Mining Co. in Boston.

The town of Saints John (“Sts. John”) in Summit County, Colorado—originally known as Coleyville in the 1860s until around 1870—was named after the Saints John mine, which was the biggest producer in that area of Colorado during the 1870s and was also one of the earliest silver discoveries in the state (circa 1864). The Saints John workings were located on Glacier Mountain and situated on Bear Creek. The mining property was acquired by the Boston Silver Mining Company (BSMC) in the late 1860s, and as early as 1870, newspapers reported that the BSMC “have shipped from their smelting works, at Sts. John, Summit County, to the care of H. C. Chapin, merchant of this place, 6,600 lbs., of lead riches.” By as early as 1875, another company with a similar name, the Boston Silver Company (BSC), had taken over the Saints John mine, and the mine was managed by Capt. Samuel Ware who made large profits for the company’s owners. In 1876, the company built a new smelter to increase processing capacity. The Saints John mine is credited with a production that has been estimated from one to five million dollars. By the 1890s the town of Saints John was mostly abandoned although a small crew continued to work the mine until it closed for good in 1928. 

These letters are variously composed by BSC treasurer Col. William L. Candler (1839–1892), Mr. F. Fohr, W. P. G. Hayward, Captain Samuel Ware, and William M. Clark, the Secretary of State of Colorado, and coincide with the mining boom in Leadville, Colorado, which was located some 50 miles away from Saints John. The BSC had a “Leadville project,” which is discussed in multiple letters as early as 13 June 1878, involving the use of the BSC smelter to process Leadville ore. Cander notes in September 1878 that “Leadville is producing more ore than can be handled in the present smelting works of the country and the mine owners are reaching out for every available opportunity to get their ores treated.” Silver was discovered in significant quantities in Leadville in 1876, ushering in the Colorado Silver Boom, which came on the heels of the gold rush boom in the district. 

The majority of these letters are from Hayward to Candler in Boston, and several letters were written by Candler while he was in Colorado to John R. Brewer, President of the Boston Mining Co., who lived in Boston. Hayward ran the company store in Sts. John and managed those who worked the company’s mines. Labor is a persistent concern in Hayward’s letters (“I do not now anticipate any serious calls for money from the men”), including housing for the laborers. In 1877, he reduced worker’s wages and boarding prices, and put all of the laborers on contracts. For a period of time Hayward served as Justice of the Peace in Sts. John. In a letter composed on 11 May 1878, Hayward writes: “I am no longer Justice of the Peace because F. E. Webster and some of the other whiskey men in this district strongly opposed my re-election. They feared I would close the saloons on Sundays.” 

The issue of road construction and access, which Hayward calls “the burden of the old transportation question,” figures significantly in the letters. On April 11th 1878, Hayward writes to Candler: “Can you give me any idea of the probabilities of your raising enough money for the road to Hall Valley this season. If there is any question about it, I would suggest that you empower me to make an effort towards getting stockholders in Colorado.” In the one letter included here, William M. Clark, the Secretary of State of Colorado, writes to Candler in Boston from Denver on May 15th 1878 concerning the right of way over the Hall Valley Wagon Road. He addresses the competition for transportation between the Snake River & Hall Valley Wagon Road Company, the Summit & Park Counties Toll Road Co., and the road company the BSC was about to establish, writing, “You do not have exclusive right, as another road could build beside you, if sufficient room to do so; but no one would care to invest money in that way. The law requires that you shall begin work within 90 days after the organization of the co[mpany].”

In addition to extensively documenting the business and pecuniary side of the BSC, these letters cover such subjects as competition with the Montezuma Mining Co. and other mining companies in Colorado; “the new discoveries at Leadville [Colorado]” and their repercussions, including increased emigration to Colorado (Hayward suggests “it will be similar to what it was at the Black Hills”); the comparison of wages in other Colorado mining towns; systematic reports on each Boston Silver Co. mine, vein, mineral streak, and product; upkeeping the company store in Saints John; work done on the mines themselves; conducting surveys; installing furnaces; a failing mine operated by a British man named Mr. Jebb; the building of various railroads in Colorado; work on the company’s mill; the seizure of the newspaper Fairplay Sentinel by the sheriff and its aftermath; procuring timber; means of transportation for workers and their product from the mines; weather conditions in Saints John; silver shipping, and so forth. A number of Swedes are mentioned as members of the company’s workforce, and a Prof. Yowley is often mentioned who frequently examines the company’s ore. From these letters, we also know that Capt. Samuel Ware operated a ranch in Colorado. 

SOME REPRESENTATIVE PASSAGES

W. P. G. Hayward; Sts. John, Colorado; 2 Feb. 1877 “The road across the Hamilton Pass to Breckenridge is in good condition, kept open by Davenport the mail carrier who occasionally brings passengers from Breck[enridge]. to Montezuma [Colorado]. A thing which couldn't have been done last year.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 25 Sept. 1877 “The Captain [i.e., Samuel Ware] and Mr. [L.] Fohr left yesterday morning for Empire and the La Plata District in Jones’ Pass expecting to return on the 29th inst. This afternoon and evening I have devoted to seeing the men and advising them personally of the reduction in wages to take place on and after Oct 1st next. The matter of board is settled at $8 per week to the men and the rate of wages to miners reduced from $3.50 to $3.00…All I have seen accept the reduction with good grace, with the exception of three who ask for time to think about it and I have given them 24 hours to decide.”

“A new mining company has come or is coming in here. It is called the Montezuma Mining Co. or something of the kind and will work the Chotangna Lode and one or two others. A Mr. Martin and a Genl. Craig (the latter from New York) seem to be the prime movers…I think it is a good thing for us if they will really start in and if they have money to bear their share of the burden of the old transportation question which heretofore has been borne by this Co. alone…We sawed about 19,000 ft. of lumber on the Co.’s saw mill and are now at work getting timbers to the mine. Then a supply of cord wood will be sawed for stove use…The mine is well provided with cord wood and charcoal.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 12 Oct. 1877 “Not one man has left since the reduction of wages and everything is quiet on the Potomac. All the men here now, that is the miners, as far as I know will stay all winter if there is work for them. With regard to the matter of supplies for the winter—the Captain will get about 7000 lbs beef, 4000 lbs flour and 4000 lbs groceries, also potatoes, perhaps $1500 worth. For the mine we shall need granit[e] powder, rails, spikes, round pointed shovels, hammer & pick handles—say $600 worth. I shall get but very little for the store…When the wages and board were reduced, I put down prices at the store in order to encourage those with families to buy here and not go outside for their winter’s supply. I intend [on] keeping some flour, coffee, and sugar ahead in case of need in the early spring before the roads are passable to wagons.” 

Hayward; Sts. John; [second letter composed on] 12 Oct. 1877 “In connection with the Montezuma and Hall Valley Waggon Road Co., Mr. Martin of the new Montezuma Mining Co. who have purchased and are working the Teller property as before advised, spoke to me this PM about it. He intimated that he could raise the money for it this winter and put it through early next summer…I had it on my tongue to tell him that whoever put it through first would be doing a good thing and I had no doubt others would use it and pay [the] toll. What I did tell him was that I thought such a separate enterprise might be a good investment in which idea he did not agree with me.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 16 Oct. 1877 “It has been our desire all along to place 4 men in the Upper Mine and the Captain by his letter some time since expressed this desire for the crowd. The want of means only deterred us from advising the thing more strongly. The richest deposits last year, as I understand it, and the recent shipment to Hill, all come from the Upper Mine, and…it has responded better and more profitably to work laid out than any other place. In letting present and future contracts in the mine, the price per foot is based on the reduced rate of wages which took place on Oct. 1st. With the exception of two or three men, all are now on contracts. Miners, as you know, prefer to take them even if on their contracts they made no more than 2 or 2.50 per day they still prefer it for the chance to make more than $3.”

William L. Candler; Boston; 19 Oct. 1877 “The mine shows very favorable for a much larger supply of mineral than it did in 1876. The mineral streak on No. 5 is more continuous than any vein that I have seen since I came to Colorado…We have now on hand 240 tons—certainly the largest portion of this is concentrating ore—but I think you will be pleased when you see the change in the character of it—it does not contain near as much zinc blends as usual and more galena…I have not given up all thoughts of finding rich mineral in the upper mine—we have stopes[?] already opened some 50 or 60 feet in length above the 1st level—which I think will produce some richer mineral than any that was taken from this mine in 1876…Ed Quibor has leased the William Bell Lode—the men intend working the mine all winter.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 2 Nov. 1877 “Mr. Fohr will tell you of the new gold discovery on the forks of the Swann [River] about 9 miles from here…The Herman Lode on the other side of Glacier Mountain has been leased by the owner Mr. Gruber[?] to 10 men from Geo’town & Empire.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 7 Dec. 1877 “Running the store subjects me to many interruptions. Sales smaller in their money but have to be attended to. I have sold the ‘Herman Lode’ men about $400 worth of stuff and taken Chattel mortgage and note on ore they have taken and will take out this winter.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 21 Dec. 1877 “One of the men (Clark) who has been here for some time, went out unexpectedly and I had to pay him off. Besides this sore all others have gone out to pass Christmas with their families and I had to give something to each one.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 16 Mar. 1878 “The price of contracts is closely watched and they are let as low as possible. Four of the six men who went out recently did so because they would not accept the price offered. I am fully of your opinion regarding another break in board and wages. The boarding rate can well afford to come down to $6 or certainly not over $7 per week. I will ascertain the Geo’town and Cotsal prices. From accounts I hear and read there will be a very large immigration to Colorado the coming season. The great excitement over the new discoveries at Leadville [Colorado] will attract many there, but too many for the demand, so this instead of making labor higher as some think will in my opinion only be an additional help for lowering them. It will be similar to what it was at the Black Hills.”

“[The Montezuma Silver Mining Company’s] main mine the ‘Chantangna’ is producing almost nothing. Another of theirs, the ‘Radical’ is however doing very well and I believe it. Men who have been in the company employ are selling out their claims for 40 and 50 cents on the dollar. Craig has been trying to sell stock in New York and Martin in Chicago—trying to put them on the stock boards. They have done some work on the road to Wall Valley—cleared away considerable timber and underbrush.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 20 Mar. 1878 “Since the storm on the 9th inst. which lasted 4 or 5 days, we have had…mild weather. If it keeps on for a week or two more not only all the meat will spoil but the roads will be open by the middle of April.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 27 Mar. 1878 “If it doesn't storm badly tomorrow I shall go over to Breckenridge on Lincoln Mine business. The ‘Fairplay Sentinel’ was seized by a sheriff just one week before the 60 days publishing of notice had expired. I think the editor will sign a proof notwithstanding. No adverse claim had been filed to date of the paper’s seizure. It snowed yesterday and all last night adding about 1 foot of snow to [the] previous stock on hand.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 30 Mar. 1878 “‘The Fairplay Sentinel’ got out of the sheriff’s clutches in time to issue the paper on the 21st inst. So I can after all get the editors proof of pub. of notice. After a little more red tape at the Fairplay Land office, the case will go to the Genl. Land Office at Washington. I do not see why it may not now be considered a pretty sure thing that I shall get a patent.” 

Hayward; Sts. John; 6 April 1878 “Prof. Yowley will be one of the incorporators of the new Road Co. Isaac Ware and myself [are] the two others.”

F. Fohr; Denver; 9 April 1878 “I hear that the rails for the Denver & South Park R.R. have partly arrived, and the balance are arriving daily and it is expected the road will be opened to Bailey’s by June 1st. I think I have gained some points by my trip to Utah.”

Hayward; 11 Apr. 1878 “Can you give me any idea of the probabilities of your raising enough money for the road to Hall Valley this season. If there is any question about it, I would suggest that you empower me to make an effort towards getting stockholders in Colorado.”

Fohr; Denver; 12 Apr. 1878 “Mr. Jones introduced me at the office of the Denver & South Park R.R. & from the information I got there the road will be running to Slaghts[?] by the first of July at the latest. Mr. Jones says he will stake his reputation on that. The rails have been shipped, the F. P. R.R. agreed to deliver them and take bonds of the road for the freight…Mr. Dodge of the Denver & Rio Grande ‘interviewed’ said he would deliver the coke from Trinidad [Colorado] incl. of freight for from $9 to $10 per ton in Denver…As to the freight from Denver to Slaghts I could not obtain any price, but they promised to write me. They seem disposed however to do what is fair, & will give you special rates I have no doubt. Governor [John] Evans is the head man.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 20 Apr. 1878 “I have it from a reliable source that the Montezuma Silver M. Co. owns one half of the Radical [Mine] and one half of the Chantangma Lodes—the other half…owned by the so-called Glacier Mountain Mining Co. I am told that Craig is the mover of this Co. and Martin of the Montezuma S. M. Co…I think your director will bring back word from New York that Col. Craig is a lame duck individually but his wife is in easy circumstances.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 27 Apr. 1878 “Some [workers] sniff scornfully at the idea of receiving only $2 per day for some work, and having to pay $8 per week board, but we shall in due time I think get the required quota of men at our own prices.” 

Hayward; Sts. John; 15 May 1878 “Reduction of wages and the price of board are so closely allied it is quite evident that they must come down together if at all…This subject has been an excessively annoying one to me.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 29 May 1878 “There have been no potatoes in camp for 6 or 8 weeks it is true, but there are plenty of canned vegetables and fruits in the store and fresh beef can be had from Breckenridge at any time we want it.”

Samuel Ware; Sts. John; 13 June 1878 “Since I returned to Colorado I have found out the wages for miners and trammers in Georgetown and Central—Geo’ Town from 2.50 to $3.00 for miners —trammers 50 cts per day less. Central City 2.50 for miners. Board in Geo’ Town 6.00 to 7 dollars per week. I made a reduction in the wages of our men commencing June 1st. Miners wages $2.75, trammers 2.25 per day. Board $7 per week…I started Isaac [Ware] for Leadville yesterday. He will write to us every week stating what his prospects are in that country. While I was stopping in Denver, I met some parties from Leadville. They spoke as if they would like for me to go over with them. I told them I would send Isaac over and they promised me that they would give him all the assistance they possibly could.”

Hayward; Sts. John; 28 June 1878 “Isaac Ware came over from Leadville night before last…He reports 7000 people in and about Leadville and the excitement at the highest.”

Fohr; Sts. John; 9 July 1878 “The saw mill was run from the first of July until yesterday and sufficient lumber of all kinds has been sawed to last during the season. A contract for hauling lime rock has been given out for 200 tons at $5.00 a ton, which cost $10.00 a ton in 1876.”

Candler; Denver; 14 July 1878 “The South Pacific R.R. is now five miles from Baileys and expects to be running into B[aileys]. next Saturday…I spent an hour or more yesterday with the President of the Road. They are very anxious to get all the business possible out of our section, and will bid low for it. The new Leadville discoveries have drawn a large number of teams into the South Park section and have reduced the prices of freight very much. I have also had an interview with the Agent of the St. Louis Smelting Co. about making arrangements for the purchase of ores at Hall Valley for them.…Mr. Jebb with his Englishmen is at Hall Valley where I shall probably see them as I pass through to Sts. John.”

Candler; Sts. John; 11 Sept. 1878 “Jebb at Hall Valley is in more trouble than ever. His English friends have sent him no coin. His mines are, many of them absolutely worthless, as he can’t pay them he can’t get rid of them, and to cap the climax last Saturday a car ran away and smashed up three men, Mr. Jebb’s clerk’s left shin bone shattered to bits for about 4 inches. Left thigh smashed and left arm also…Five men in the hospital between Friday and Sunday. You can imagine how cheerful the appearance was when I reached there on Sunday…The man ‘B’ who wrote in the Mining Journal was an agent of the American Lead Association named Bowman. You must have passed him coming over from Hall Valley…I believe Fohr was not polite to him, because he tried to prove that articles written by [Bowman] had raised the price of lead cents.”

Candler; Sts. John; 21 Sept. 1878 “I have an application to smelt ore there [Denver] for parties in Leadville. The proposition is to furnish me with 10 to 20 tons a day and allow 30 days credit…Leadville is producing more ore than can be handled in the present smelting works of the country and the mine owners are reaching out for every available opportunity to get their ores treated.” 

Fohr; Sts. John; 27 Sept. 1878 “One of our men came in last night from the La Plata and brought a sack full of rich ore, taken from a loose piece in our tunnel, which is now in 90 feet. This shows that we have not passed over the vein yet, but that it must be still ahead of us. May we soon find it, if it is only silver.”

Candler; Sts. John; 2 Oct. 1878 “If the English people send Jebb money, he will be able to get out some ore…but I haven’t much faith. Something may come of the Leadville business. They have ore enough there if we can only make arrangements to have it hauled down at reasonable rates. My charcoal business…has become rather more satisfactory.”

Ware; Sts. John; 24 June 1879 “I heard while in Kokomo [Colorado] that our mine in California gulch was jumped. I went over and found no one on it, but I did find some suspicious looking parties around waiting for our time to expire which is given us by law to do our work. I thought under the present circumstances it would be better to start immediately, and before I left Leadville which is the largest town in the world for its age, I gave a party of miners a contract of $100 dollars to clean out the tunnel which was full of ice…While at Leadville I went through the Iron Mine with Mr. Stephens the owner. The mine shows about 5 feet of mineral on an average all through the mine…Our mine is located between the Iron and Long and Derry mines which are good mines.”

Ware; Sts. John; 28 July 1879 “I have done all that I possibly could to sell the stock which is now on the ranch in the South Park. About 3 months ago there was a big demand for all kind of stock. It now seems to me that no person about used them. I tried when in Denver to sell them. I have been over to the end of the Denver and South Park R.R. and cannot find any person that wishes to purchase…There is but little in the store that would sell at Ten Mile. We have on hand about 30 cans of fruit and some bacon and I think 6 pairs of blankets which we might sell if there was any money in the country but Kokomo is very dull at present and will continue until the furnaces start up.”

Ware; Sts. John; 12 Aug. 1879 “There is great excitement of late in Peru Gulch about 4 miles from Sts. John—over a large vein of rich mineral which was discovered by Wm. Mendenhall & Co. There is [sic] about 150 men prospecting in that vicinity and have commenced to build a new town and call it Ruby City. They talk very strong of getting a furnace and two saw mills started within the next month. But I think this is only talk to help keep up the excitement and to bring capitalists around.”

Ware; Sts. John; 1 Sept. 1879 “I have this day sold the engine and boiler—the property of the Boston Mining Company which has been laying at Montezuma. The parties who bought it are going to take it to Peru Gulch. They intend putting up concentrating works. Also a blast furnace the price for the engine and boiler is $2,900…I have taken the stock from the ranch where they have been since early in the spring. It was expensive…keeping them…I succeeded at last in getting a man to take some of our mineral to the D. and S. P. [Denver and South Pacific] R.R. at $10 per ton and the freight to Golden [Colorado] on the R.R. is $6 per ton. Why I ship to Golden [Colorado] is we can get a better price for lead ore than any other market in the state.” 

Ware; Sts. John; 9 Oct. 1879 “I have written Mr. Johnson concerning the patents on the Montezuma Mill sites which I received by the last mail, and they are now in this office also. The only objection that I have in working the Whitesides Mine is that it will have to be opened with a shaft and will have to contend with a good deal of water which will make it expensive…I will send you by this mail a map of the Leadville Mines [map no longer present] [by] which you can easily find the Whitesides mine. It is situated near the head of California Creek and is marked in lead pencil. I think our La Plata property [is] a good speculation for any mining company.”

“In regard to the Leadville scheme you speak of—I did think when I was there this summer that if I had any money I certainly would have stuck to Leadville…I was over to Kokomo [Colorado] last week…There is undoubtedly some good mines already discovered and others will be found (the White Quail) this is the mine that I leased last spring, and has been sold for $135,000. They have a large body of mineral but I think it is very low grade…I have just received a certificate from Prof. Yowley from the sample of ore taken from the La Plata Mine and it assayed 420 oz. This is better than I expected.”

An rich archive documenting the Colorado silver mining scene during the late 1870s. 

REFERENCES: Brown, Robert L. Jeep Trails to Colorado Ghost Towns (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press, 2000), p. 188; “Saints John, Colorado” at Western Mining History online.

Item #8298

Price: $9,500.00